UDS Sessions attended today

Free Software, Games, Jonathan, Politics 1 Comment »

The sessions are quite short, most of them just under an hour which works quite well, most sessions have follow-up sessions planned. Refer to http://summit.ubuntu.com/uds-karmic/ for further details.

Improving LoCo Team Events

This was the first session I attended today. We discussed package and bug jams and how it could be improved. Also the possibility of introducing marketing jams where users would get together to produce local marketing content such as posters, CD covers, etc in local languages. A requirement was identified for a Facebook-like events engine. Currently loco-teams are finding Facebook a handy tool for this, and something similar may be included in Launchpad for all Ubuntu related events based on the current sprints scheduler. The community directory is 98% complete, Jono will provide us with more details soon when it’s just about complete.

Refocusing The Ubuntu Spirit

This was mostly a discussion that went into various different directions. The Ubuntu Code of Conduct came up and it was discussed how new users sometimes are a bit too diligent trying to enforce it on everyone else in the community. It was agreed that the CoC is a guideline on how people should conduct themselves and that it shouldn’t be used to through books at people, so to speak. Keeping users and developers motivated was also discussed, and the possibility of some kind of showcase of success stories from users around the world.

Free Culture in Ubuntu

Getting free culture on the Ubuntu discs is hard due to the lack of free space. Free culture could be provided in Ubuntu via links and default subscriptions in Firefox, Liferea, Miro etc.

Tutorial on Upstart and How to Convert to it

Scott James Remnant did an introduction on Upstart. Upstart replaces Init on Ubuntu and migration for all init scripts to Upstart is planned for Karmic. Upstart is quite nifty and replaces lots of duplicate and error-prone work that package maintainers had to implement in init before. You can specify environment variables or put entire scripts into the sections before, during and after a process is started. Upstart also keeps an eye on the list of PID’s that it spawned and won’t break when a user does something like execute “apache2ctl stop”.

Meet Your Users

This was a workshop/discussion about personas, archetypes and stereotypes and how personas are used to define the edges of our user universe. We wrote down who we think our users are and they were posted up the board and sorted in to different groups. I think this was the first BoF I’ve ever attended that was led by a women. Speaking of which, there are much more women attending this UDS than previously. One of the results seem to be that there’s some more attention given to some of the more softer issues in Ubuntu. Hopefully it also means that our community has built a good reputation of being welcomming and mature.

Edubuntu Session Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 9:00 UTC (11:00 in Barcelona) we’re having the Edubuntu session where we’ll discuss the Edubuntu stategy document, it’s been in draft for a while and we will hopefully have it finilized very soon (maube even tomorrow if we’re lucky). Some people couldn’t make it, so we’ll try to keep #edubuntu in sync with discussions if the Internet holds up.

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More Easter Eggs in Ubuntu

Free Software 7 Comments »

Easter time! I’m going to spend the next few days off-line attending some music festivals (KKNK, KoDV, Cokefest, etc). I kept a list of all the easter eggs I’ve gathered in Ubuntu since the last time I blogged about Ubuntu Easter Eggs, enjoy!


Type about:robots in the Firefox address bar. You’ll get this message:


Require Quarter

In GDM, the Ubuntu login screen, type “Require Quarter” and press enter. It will return back to the login prompt as if you haven’t typed anything at all. When the next user comes to log in, the system will display a prompt that says “Insert 25 cents to continue…”

Zenity Dress Up

Zenity is a tool that you can use to add some GUI functionality to your scripts. If you execute zenity –about, and type “zen” into the about dialog, then you will get to play dress-up Mr Potato style. This doesn’t seem to work on Jaunty anymore.

StarCalc Team

In OpenOffice.org Calc, type “=STARCALCTEAM()” into any of the cells. A picture will be displayed of the original Star Office Calc team.


GEGL Eggs in Gnome

Right-click on an open space on the gnome-panel and click on properties.Right-click 3 times on any of the tabs. A GEGL cow will fly by waving at you.


You can also play the gegls from outer space game. Press ALT+F2, then typs “gegls from outer space”


The Answer in VIM

Type :help 42 in the command field, and you will get the following message:



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Default packages

Free Software, Jonathan 8 Comments »

The Mother

My mother have been using Ubuntu on her desktop PC since just after Ubuntu 7.04 has been released. My mother doesn’t do much on her PC, she manages photos, browses the web, reads e-mail, keeps in touch with Pidgin and plays the occasional game. About 3 months ago, she bought a new laptop with Vista. I thought she’d get along with it fine, and with me being so far away from home so much these days, I thought she’d be fine. Well, she wasn’t. In fact, the laptop has been lying in a cupboard because she just couldn’t get things to work on it. She’s been visiting over the weekend, so I installed Ubuntu 8.04 on it, and she’s very happy with it. She’s been telling everyone how nicely her laptop is working now since I’ve “upgraded” it :)

I did a Google search to find what people install on their mother’s machines, but couldn’t find anything really helpful. These are the packages I installed on my mother’s laptop:

  • thunderbird
  • gnome-ppp
  • some games from universe

I then just added some bookmarks to Firefox for the sites she often visits, configured Pidgin and Thunderbird, added a photo to her session info and imported all her music into Rhythmbox. So far everything is working very nicely.

The Server

These are packages I usually install on servers. Not all of these packages usually gets installed on all servers though. These are just a few favourites.

  • screen
  • mc
  • htop
  • debmirror
  • irssi
  • debootstrap
  • vim
  • toilet
  • figlet
  • openssh-server
  • ethstatus
  • ddclient
  • apache2
  • nmap
  • rkhunter
  • postfix
  • traceroute
  • links2
  • sshfs
  • strace
  • gpw
  • ccze

The Desktop

At least, my desktop, plus the packages on the server list.

  • wireshark
  • thunderbird
  • network-manager-openvpn
  • quanta
  • agave
  • build-essential
  • k3b
  • nautilus-open-terminal
  • fakeroot
  • freemind
  • debhelper
  • devscripts
  • strace
  • liferea
  • vlc
  • virtualbox

If there’s something else I should install by default and don’t know about, please leave a comment :)

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70 000 Ubuntu workstation migration for French Police

Free Software 6 Comments »

The French paramilitary police will be migrating 70 000 desktops from Microsoft Windows to Ubuntu. They plan to change 5000-8000 desktops this year (all new machines will run Ubuntu), and 12 000 – 15 000 over the next 4 years, and completing the migration by 2014.

The reasons behind the migration is reduction in cost, diversifying their software suppliers and the advanced state that Linux systems are in today. In recent years, they have already started using OpenOffice.org, Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird which should smooth out the transition for the users quite significantly.

They estimate that migrating from Microsoft’s products will save them about €7m a year. That’s a lot of money. It’s great to see that governments all over the world are deciding to spend their money better in their own country rather than spend it on licenses that will be worthless in less than a decade.

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Ubuntu 7.10 lets YOU choose your level of freedom

Free Software 17 Comments »

People seem to have quite high expectations of Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy), and to be honest, I don’t think they’ll be disappointed. Gutsy seems to be shaping up to be the best Ubuntu release ever, and it’s due for release next Thursday (18 October).There’s one particular aspect of Gutsy that I think is more important than most, and that is that it allows you to choose your level of freedom. I’d even go as far to say that this is an historic Linux distribution release, because of that.

1. Restricted manager

While not new in Gutsy, it does have a good deal of improvements. Restricted manager educates the user about proprietary drivers, firmware and other software that is required to make their hardware work. In the screenshot below, Restricted Manager warns me that my laptop requires non-free drivers if I’d like to use my modem. I haven’t had a use for a dial-up modem in years, so I just leave it disabled.

Restricted manager

2. Firefox integration for downloading flash plugins

This is a much-needed improvement, users often complain about installing flash plugins. Now, it’s easier to install both free and non-free implementations of flash. When you access a site that requires a flash plugin, and you don’t yet have it installed, Firefox will display a prompt where you can either install the proprietary Adobe Flash plugin, or the bleeding edge technology preview version of the GNU Gnash plugin.

Choose flash plugin

The required packages are then installed using Ubuntu’s own package management system, as opposed to Firefox’s plugin system- excellent!

3. Add/remove software

As the Restricted Manager, this is not new in Gutsy either, but I thought this fits in nicely with the other features. The Ubuntu add/remove program makes it easy for users to distinguish whether they’re installing proprietary or free software, and which of that is officially supported in Ubuntu. It wasn’t always like that, so I’m very glad to see that the Ubuntu team has managed to make and keep it simple for the users.

4. Gobuntu

Gobuntu Logo

Last, but most certainly not least, is Gobuntu. Originally there was going to be an Ubuntu build that was going to be called Gnubuntu, which contains 100% free software, and no proprietary firmware or drivers at all. Richard Stallman objected to the name, and it then became Ubuntu Libre, and was finally released as Gnewsense.

In Gutsy, the original idea behind Gnewsense is taken further. Gobuntu, the latest addition to the Ubuntu family, will not only ship with no restricted drivers by default, but it will also ship with no non-free images or artwork (that’s the ultimate ideal, at least). I’m not 100% sure whether this has actually been achieved for Gutsy yet, looking at the gobuntu-desktop metapackage, it seems that it still uses Firefox instead of Iceweasel. I think that the Hardy release of Gobuntu will be much more pure. If you have the time/energy resources, please join the gobuntu-devel mailing list and contribute to this project!


Whether you want to do the right thing and use free software wherever possible, or whether you need to install additional proprietary software that you require to do your work or have some fun, Ubuntu 7.10 makes it easier for you to choose. Kudos to the Ubuntu team and management for doing such a great job. I don’t think there’s any other distribution that currently makes it this easy to stick with 100% pure free software AND that makes it so easy to optionally install proprietary software.

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