Episode 401 Show Notes

Welcome to mintCast

the Podcast by the Linux Mint Community for All Users of Linux

This is Episode 401!

This is Episode 401.5!

Recorded on Sunday the 27th November 2022

From the Frosty south Im Joe, By the way – I’m Bill

— Play Standard Intro —

  • First up in the news
    • Network-crashing leap seconds to be abandoned, Asahi Linux Improves Apple Silicon Support
  • In security and privacy
    • updates are required
  • Then in our Wanderings
    • Bill hammers nextcloud
    • Joe does tinkering
  • In our Innards section
    • We discuss more history
  • And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions

— Play News Transition Bumper —

The News

20 minutes

The assumption is that within those 100 years, time-focused scientists (metrologists) will have found a way to synchronize time as measured by humans to time as experienced by our planet orbiting the Sun. But most people will not notice any difference at all, even as the time difference could reach up to one minute by the end of that 100 years.

  • System administrators everywhere, especially at larger companies, will never know what catastrophes awaited them with the next leap second. Leap seconds in 2012 and 2017 caused multi-hour outages at companies including Reddit, Qantas, and Cloudflare. Many companies implemented a version of “leap smearing” to smooth out a leap second addition into micro-seconds spread across the globe throughout a day.
  • (From timeanddate.com) Additionally, in recent years the Earth’s rotation has unexpectedly speeded up. This has led to the possibility of a negative leap second, where a second is taken away from UTC, rather than added to it. According to the CGPM resolution, this “insertion has never been foreseen or tested”.
  • While the BIPM’s vote set a policy for disregarding leap minutes, the entity that actually coordinates and disseminates UTC, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), could potentially intercede. Felicitas Arias, a former BIPM time director, told the journal Nature that the ITU’s final say is “the thing that makes us a little bit nervous.” Yet Arias told The New York Times that negotiations between the BIPM and ITU had her convinced of success.
  • From makeuseof.com
  • The Asahi Linux project, a distribution aiming to make a Linux desktop available for Apple Silicon-based Macs, has issued a November 2022 “progress report” in an official blog post.
  • “This month’s update is packed with new hardware support, new features, and fixes for longstanding pain points, as well as a new bleeding-edge kernel branch with long-awaited support for suspend and the display controller!” Martin said.
  • One major change to Asahi Linux is that it now supports USB 3.0 devices. The main challenge has been writing the PHY driver that’s necessary to communicate with the Apple Silicon CPU. This requires some very careful timing on Asahi developers’ part.
  • While there’s improved USB support, one thing that’s still on the table is speaker support. The main reason is that it’s possible to blow out laptop speakers. Martin himself seemed willing to risk the speakers in his own machine:
  • For months now we’ve had working speaker drivers, but we haven’t enabled them for good reason: because we had the very strong suspicion that you could destroy your speakers without more complex volume limits and safety systems. As it turns out… those suspicions were correct! I decided to take one for the team and run some tests on my MacBook Air M2, and even with some sensible volume limits I quickly managed to blow up my tweeters. Oops! Good thing we haven’t enabled the speakers yet!”
  • That must have been an interesting call to AppleCare. Asahi Linux users might have to wait for speaker support for at least a while longer. Martin says that the team will implement safety features to make sure that speakers are driven with proper voltages, similar to how MacOS and Android handle their speaker outputs.
    • With Asahi Linux, users might see this development in real time, as VTuber and Asahi developer Asahi Lina has amassed a cult following on YouTube with an unlikely subject for livestreaming: Linux graphics stack development. Asaha Lina currently boasts 11,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel.

— Play Security Transition Bumper —

Security and Privacy

10 minutes

  • Update Chrome Browser Now to Patch New Actively Exploited Zero-Day FlawFrom: The Hacker News
    • Google on Thursday released software updates to address yet another zero-day flaw in its Chrome web browser.
    • Tracked as CVE-2022-4135, the high-severity vulnerability has been described as a heap buffer overflow in the GPU component. Clement Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has been credited with reporting the flaw on November 22, 2022.

Heap-based buffer overflow bugs can be weaponized by threat actors to crash a program or execute arbitrary code, leading to unintended behavior.

According to the NIST’s National Vulnerability Database, the flaw could permit a “remote attacker who had compromised the renderer process to potentially perform a sandbox escape via a crafted HTML page.”

“Google is aware that an exploit for CVE-2022-4135 exists in the wild,” the tech giant acknowledged in an advisory.

But like other actively exploited issues, technical specifics have been withheld until a majority of the users are updated with a fix and to prevent further abuse.

With the latest update, Google has resolved eight zero-day vulnerabilities in Chrome since the start of the year –

Users are recommended to upgrade to version 107.0.5304.121 for macOS and Linux and 107.0.5304.121/.122 for Windows to mitigate potential threats.

Users of Chromium-based browsers such as Microsoft Edge, Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi are also advised to apply the fixes as and when they become available.

  • Dell, HP, and Lenovo Devices Found Using Outdated OpenSSL Versions
    • An analysis of firmware images across devices from Dell, HP, and Lenovo has revealed the presence of outdated versions of the OpenSSL cryptographic library, underscoring a supply chain risk.
    • EFI Development Kit, aka EDK, is an open source implementation of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), which functions as an interface between the operating system and the firmware embedded in the device’s hardware.
    • The firmware development environment, which is in its second iteration (EDK II), comes with its own cryptographic package called CryptoPkg that, in turn, makes use of services from the OpenSSL project.
    • Per firmware security company Binarly, the firmware image associated with Lenovo Thinkpad enterprise devices was found to use three different versions of OpenSSL: 0.9.8zb, 1.0.0a, and 1.0.2j, the last of which was released in 2018.
    • What’s more, one of the firmware modules named InfineonTpmUpdateDxe relied on OpenSSL version 0.9.8zb that was shipped on August 4, 2014.
    • “The InfineonTpmUpdateDxe module is responsible for updating the firmware of Trusted Platform Module (TPM) on the Infineon chip,” Binarly explained in a technical write-up last week.
    • “This clearly indicates the supply chain problem with third-party dependencies when it looks like these dependencies never received an update, even for critical security issues.”
    • The diversity of OpenSSL versions aside, some of the firmware packages from Lenovo and Dell utilized an even older version (0.9.8l), which came out on November 5, 2009. HP’s firmware code, likewise, used a 10-year-old version of the library (0.9.8w).
    • The fact that the device firmware uses multiple versions of OpenSSL in the same binary package highlights how third-party code dependencies can introduce more complexities in the supply chain ecosystem.
    • Binarly further pointed out the weaknesses in what’s called a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) that arises as a result of integrating compiled binary modules (aka closed source) in the firmware.
    • “We see an urgent need for an extra layer of SBOM Validation when it comes to compiled code to validate on the binary level, the list of third-party dependency information that matches the actual SBOM provided by the vendor,” the company said.
    • “A ‘trust-but-verify’ approach is the best way to deal with SBOM failures and reduce supply chain risks.”

— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —

Bi-Weekly Wanderings

30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)

  • Bill
    • Well it seems as though the most interesting thing I have to talk about is my journey with Nextcloud. This experience has taken me to the brink of meltdown, and back. Nextcloud is an amazing project with a lot of potential, but anyone who decides to make the switch and use it in real production should take some things into consideration.
    • First off – I definitely recommend anyone planning to use Nextcloud in production – meaning with multiple users with document collaboration built in, I recommend using the Docker image and if you want to expose it to the internet, put it behind a reverse proxy, and handle the SSL stuff from there. Also, and this is the part that has been tripping me up as of late – install Collabora document server in a separate docker container. The “built in” Collabora CODE server is simply not adequate for production use. There’s good documentation for getting the container up, running and connected to your Nextcloud instance. We struggled to get things up and running for the last episode because I was trying to rely on the built in document server, which was just not fit for purpose. Copying pasting didn’t work from outside Nextcloud. This is an obvious deal-breaker given we copy and paste a lot of stuff for the show notes. I then decided to switch over to the alternative document solution for Nextcloud that is based on OnlyOffice. It seemed to work ok until once again relying on the “Community” document server yielded problems for the team. These servers are really meant for single-user use cases and lack good collaborative functionality. At one point some work got deleted and the versioning system couldn’t cope with the multi-user way we do the show notes. After some research, I decided to go ahead and try spinning up our own Collabora document server so that we would have un-gimped functionality. I chose the Docker route, and with just a couple commands and a config adjustment in Nextcloud, we were up and running. I have to say, once you finally figure everything out, it’s really quite slick. Docker for the win, once again!
    • Speaking of fun with servers. Those who have been following the odyssey which is my trouble with the Rockpro64, and then with those same drives in the new x86 server would know I recently sent one of the drives back to Seagate for warranty replacement – well it seems as though both drives were bad. Shortly after sending the first drive to Seagate, the second one started throwing ZFS errors as well as I/O errors. I didn’t even mess with it. I bought two identical cold swap drives and sent the second drive to Seagate for replacement, added the replacements and I haven’t had a single problem in over 2 weeks now. I’m still not convinced the problem was two bad drives and not some kind of corruption brought on by the Rockpro64. I’m almost afraid to use this thing now.
  • Joe
    • Well I was on vacation for a good chunk of the last 2 weeks but I was also sick for a large portion of it
    • I did get some done but not as much as I would like
    • On the DIY bluetooth headset front I got another one made. Very happy with how this one turned out, I 3d designed and printed the casing and used the original button actuators as planned. I was able to put a slightly larger battery on but not as large as I wanted due to space availability but I am planning on correcting that in the next print. The overall size is much better than the last one I did and I redesigned the shirt clip so it fit a bit more correctly. It works well and I probably should have reprinted so that I could get the larger battery and adjusted some of the tolerances so that I did not have to glue it together but I needed to leave something for the next one. This one works great. The thinner walls are actually very sturdy and the gray color allows the indicator lights to shine through
    • I am trying to make sure that I do an hours worth of writing per day whether that is technical articles or journaling or writing up the show notes. Not as easy at it sounds but I am also trying to hold myself accountable. I will be using my onegx for that.
    • Speaking of the onegx I finally ordered the correct hub that will allow fast charging pass through and has hdmi. It is a little bit taller than the other one because of the hdmi connector but I was able to design and print another mount for the right side of the board. This gives this little laptop a total of 7 usb ports and a full size hdmi connector. I noticed that the airflow was a bit restricted with it in place and the device is heating up more so I will need to look for another wiring solution before I make this a long term fix. I also do not like the wifi adapter that is on the board. It is not really reliable and I found one of my other ones and tore the whole thing down to replace it and then found out that it is smaller than a standard size. So the solution for now was to buy a low profile usb adapter that will handle 5ghz. It did not work on linux out of the box but I was able to go get the drivers and get it working after some fiddling around. But then after a restart I noticed that there was a large problem with speed. I am still working on it.
    • Need to find my HDMI switcher so that I can prep for the new workflow from work although I am pretty sure that I am also going to need to start prepping to make the transition back to the office. I may need to switch back to one of my tablets to do that. The company policy is very precise and very stupid in that regard. You can have a tablet but not a laptop. I have some tablets that are as good if not better than some laptops of the same time frame.
    • But then again I may switch and just use my phone for everything. I saw an article the other day on a new ay to run vms on phones and I could probably do an entire setup. Or I could use some remote software and just spinoff a new desktop on my main machine and always be connected to home. Let me know what you guys think.
    • I am also debating looking for a new job and seeing what I can find. I do have friends in the industry and I do know the places to look. I don’t think I want to be a contractor right now and I do not want to switch to an hourly. I know that it is POSSIBLE to make more money that way but it is also possible to not get fired and have your hours cut down to almost nothing. I’ll take my chances with salary

— Play Innards Transition Bumper —

Linux Innards

30 minutes (~5-8 minutes each)

  • Arch (Bill)
    • According to Wikipedia, Arch Linux is an independently developed, x86-64 general-purpose Linux distribution that strives to provide the latest stable versions of most software by following a rolling-release model. The default installation is a minimal base system, configured by the user to only add what is purposely required. What does this mean? Well put simply, Arch is a distribution that assumes nothing about its users, and has no “distribution level” enhancements, customization, or modifications. When you install Arch, you’re presented with a completely vanilla Linux experience. Desktop elements, and applications are presented as nothing more, and nothing less than what the upstream development people intended. Arch doesn’t even ship with a configured .bashrc file in the user’s home directory. As such, it is up to the user to do all the necessary configuration to the system to get it set up they way he or she likes. This is the methodology the Arch team has adhered to since the beginning, and there seems to be no plans to change.
    • Arch was started in March 2002 by the then lead developer Judd Vinet. Inspired by CRUX, another minimalist distribution, Judd Vinet started the Arch Linux project in March 2002. The name was chosen because Vinet liked the word’s meaning of “the principal,” as in “arch-enemy.” Vinet led Arch Linux until 1 October 2007, when he stepped down due to lack of time, transferring control of the project to Aaron Griffin.
    • On July 8, 2005 the “Arch Wiki was born” the rather exhaustive tool remains the most comprehensive source of Linux information which has proven useful for many Linux distributions, not just Arch.
    • The team announced the end of 32 bit suport in January 2017 with February 2017 ISO Being the last one including support for the i686 architecture.
    • On 24 February 2020, Aaron Griffin announced that due to his limited involvement with the project, he would, after a voting period, transfer control of the project to Levente Polyak. This change also led to a new 2-year term period being added to the Project Leader position.
    • In April 2021, the official installation ISO included a “guided” interactive installer which vastly speeds up the install time.
  • Manjaro JOE
  • Manjaro was first made in july 2011 and stayed in beta through 2013
  • Although Manjaro is arch based and arch compatible it is not Arch Linux
    • It is developed independently from Arch by a separate team
    • It is designed to be usable by new users while arch is made for experienced users
    • Has independent repositories and contains many software packages not provided by arch
  • After version 0.90 at the end of August 2015 the team decided to switch to year and month designations for the version scheme instead of numbers.  
  • In 2017 Manjaro dropped support for x86 systems which lead to the community project “manjaro32” which continued the 32bit support
  • There are 3 official Manjaro editions maintained by the Manjaro devs
    • XFCE
    • KDE Plasma
    • Gnome
  • But there are many more community maintained versions that are also available
    • Awesome
    • Bspwm
    • Budgie
    • I3
    • LXDE
    • LXQt
    • MATE
    • Openbox
  • Bridge Linux (Bill)
    • Although this distribution has been discontinued since 2015, I thought it would be interesting to include it in the innards. Bridge was once the best entry point for someone wanting to start using Arch, but isn’t quite comfortable with the installation process.
    • Bridge was developed by members of an outfit named Miller Technologies. The lead developer’s name was Dalton Miller.
    • Bridge was a short lived distro with it’s first ISO released in April of 2012, and it’s last in February of 2015. ISO’s included Gnome, Kde, LXDE, and their flagship XFCE.
    • This distro was the first of those which aimed to be a more user friendly method of installing Arch. It had a semi-graphical installer and an interesting set of theming unique to the distribution. It pre-dates even Antergos by a year.
  • Antergos
    • This Arch-based distribution started it’s life in November of 2013 as a successor of the Cinnarch project, which aimed to combine the Cinnamon desktop with the Arch Linux distribution. In it’s later years, the project moved past it’s original goals, offering a choice of several desktops including Gnome Razor-qt, and XFCE. The first ISO released in November of 2013, and the final release (19.04) was in April of 2019. Again, this was a distribution with the goal of bringing the benefits of the Arch Linux rolling model to more users.
    • Antergos was a very community oriented distro, but on 21 May 2019 the developers announced that due to lack of time the project would come to an end. Quote: “Today, we are announcing the end of this project. As many of you probably noticed over the past several months, we no longer have enough free time to properly maintain Antergos. We came to this decision because we believe that continuing to neglect the project would be a huge disservice to the community. Taking this action now, while the project’s code still works, provides an opportunity for interested developers to take what they find useful and start their own projects.”
  • EndeavourOS
    • A spiritual successor to Antergos.
    • The original idea was to “continue the community feeling on a new forum that would invite any Arch or Arch-based Linux user into the group.”
    • The plan quickly changed “from preserving the former community on a new forum to creating a new distro with that vibrant community at its core.”
    • From the Endeavour website: “With the plan to turn Endeavour into EndeavourOS, we deliberately travelled another road than Antergos did. It never was and it will never be our intention to be an Antergos clone. In fact, our departure point was the Antergos community and not Antergos the distro and that’s why we chose to let go of the look and feel of our predecessor and find our own voice in creating our own identity with the community at our side.”
    • July 2019: The first stable release of EndeavourOS: “We want to thank the entire community for all the trust you gave us towards this moment and a special thanks to Nate for providing us with our logo, Michael Tunnell for his support and insights…”
    • September 2019: The net installer was released and Xfce became the flagship desktop. “To remind you, it’s going to be the Calamares installer with the option to choose the offline option that will install the Xfce desktop that you’re used to from us or the online installer in which you can choose one from several desktop environments to install on your system. With the net-installer, we’re going to offer several desktop environments, but Xfce will stay our flagship DE and shall receive the most attention in development, the other DE’s will be presented as closer to a vanilla DE.”
    • September 2020: EndeavourOS ARM was released, fully based on Archlinux ARM, the unofficial ARM version of Arch.
    • 2021: The releases started getting codenames: “The reason why we started naming the releases has to do with us changing our work method. Our team has grown since the last release and in order to give each team member time to do their task, we now freeze the ISO development at a certain point and to try to avoid confusion by calling it the December release, while the ISO has a November date in its name.”
    • At the end of 2021 “Atlantis” and “Atlantis Neo” were released. In Atlantis Neo: encrypted installations with BTRFS now works choosing SWAP partition and hibernation. As the codenames imply, the EndeavourOS community likes the theme of space and space exploration.
    • April 2022: The “Apollo” release is available. Features include:
      • Instead of using LightDM + Slickgreeter as the default, the community editions now are installed with the best DM option for the chosen Window Manager. The DMs used are: LightDM + Slick greeter, Lxdm, ly and GDM.
      • Calamares now lets the user choose the Desktop Environment first, before going to the package selection page to install other packages like another kernel etc.
    • June 2022: “Artemis” is available.
      • pipewire-media-session has been replaced with wireplumber
      • introducing Calamares to the ARM installation process
    • August 2022: “Artemis Neo” is available.
      • This release isn’t shipping with big improvements from our side but has some corrections to the Artemis release from last month and an upstream refresh for the live environment and the offline install option.”
    • September 2022: “Artemis Nova” is available. This was around the time of the Arch GRUB issue that Endeavour was quick to address.
      • As part of the recent challenges with Grub, it has come to light that running grub-install is required when updating grub. Unfortunately, this is difficult for a distro like EndeavourOS to safely automate. This is because EndeavourOS is a distro where we view our installation as a starting point from which we encourage our users to customize it to meet their individual needs. As a result, we have no control over the configuration of the bootloader on existing systems.”
  • Linux From Scratch Joe (Contributed by londoner)
    • LFS is an unusual distribution in that there is no .iso or other image file that can be downloaded. Instead, Linux From Scratch (LFS) is a project that provides you with step-by-step instructions for building your own custom Linux system, entirely from source code. This is, naturally, a longer process than installing a pre-compiled Linux distribution. According to the Linux From Scratch website, the advantages to this method are a compact, flexible and secure system and a greater understanding of the internal workings of the Linux-based operating systems.
    • LFS was started by Gerard Beekmans in 1998, but now mainly maintained by Bruce Dubbs.
    • One important reason for this project’s existence is to help you learn how a Linux system works from the inside out. Building an LFS system helps demonstrate what makes Linux tick, and how things work together and depend on each other. One of the best things that this learning experience can provide is the ability to customize a Linux system to suit your own unique needs. Custom-built Linux systems serve not only to meet user specific requirements, but also serve as an ideal learning opportunity for programmers and system administrators to enhance their (existing) Linux skills.
    • Another key benefit of LFS is that it allows you to have more control over the system without relying on someone else’s Linux implementation. With LFS, you are in the driver’s seat and dictate every aspect of the system.
    • The primary target architectures of LFS are the AMD/Intel x86 (32-bit) and x86_64 (64-bit) CPUs.
    • Instructions are available to create either systemd- or sysVinit-based installations. However the instructions are also known to work, with some modifications, with the Power PC and ARM CPUs.
    • Major Releases 1999 Dec
      • Initial release
      • LFS 2.0
      • LFS 3.0
      • LFS 4.0
      • LFS 5.0
      • LFS 6.0
      • LFS 7.0
      • LFS 8.0
      • LFS 9.0
      • LFS 10.0
      • LFS 11.0
      • LFS 11.2 Latest release with kernel 5.19
    • Updated instructions are normally released every six months, at the beginning of March and September.
    • A clean partition and a working Linux system with a compiler and some essential software libraries are required to build LFS. Instead of installing from an existing Linux system, one can also use a Live USB to build an LFS system. Then you can download the source code packages (for v11.2 this is a 493MB/470 MiB download comprising of 86 packages)
    • First, an initial toolchain must be compiled consisting of the tools used to compile LFS, like GCC, glibc, binutils, and other necessary utilities. Then, the root directory must be changed, (using chroot), to the toolchain’s partition to start building the final system. One of the first packages to compile is glibc; after that, the toolchain’s linker must be adjusted to link against the newly built glibc, so that all other packages that will make up the finished system can be linked against it as well. During the chroot phase, bash’s hashing feature is turned off and the temporary toolchain’s bin directory moved to the end of PATH. This way the newly compiled programs come first in PATH and the new system builds on its own new components.
    • When you finish a by-the-book installation of LFS, you will have a bare-bones minimal Linux installation. Only a root user, command-line only and no applications, except for a text editor (by default Vim, but this can be replaced by a editor of your choice).
    • To keep LFS small and focused, the book Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) was created, which presents instructions on how to further develop the basic Linux system that was created in LFS. It introduces and guides the reader through additions to the system including the X Window System, desktop environments (KDE, GNOME, Xfce, LXDE), productivity software, web browsers, programming languages and tools, multimedia software, and network management and system administration tools.
    • Automated Linux From Scratch (ALFS) is a project designed to automate the process of creating an LFS system. It is aimed at users who have gone through the LFS and BLFS books several times and wish to reduce the amount of work involved. A secondary goal is to act as a test of the LFS and BLFS books by directly extracting and running instructions from the XML sources of the LFS and BLFS books.
    • 2 older associated projects (no longer maintained?)
    • The book Cross Linux From Scratch (CLFS) focuses on cross compiling, including compiling for headless or embedded systems that can run Linux, but lack the resources needed to compile Linux. It appears to have not been updated since 2018.
    • The book Hardened Linux From Scratch (HLFS) focuses on security enhancements such as hardened kernel patches, mandatory access control policies, stack-smashing protection, and address space layout randomization. Besides its main purpose of creating a security-focused operating system, HLFS had the secondary goal of being a security teaching tool. It has not been updated since 2011.
    • According to Distrowatch, there are two distros that use LFS as a base.
    • NuTyX
    • NuTyX is a French Linux distribution (with multi-language support) built from Linux From Scratch and Beyond Linux From Scratch, with a custom package manager called “cards”. The package manager can install individual binary packages, a group of related binary packages (e.g. desktop packages, such as KDE or Xfce), and compile source packages from “ports”. The distribution is designed for intermediate and advanced Linux users.
    • Fatdog64 Linux
    • Fatdog64 Linux is a small, desktop, 64-bit Linux distribution. Originally created as a derivative of Puppy Linux with additional applications, Fatdog64 has grown to become a distinct, separate project while maintaining much of the style of Puppy Linux.

— Play Vibrations Transition Bumper —

Vibrations from the Ether

20 minutes (~5 minutes each)

  • Phil S (Bill)

I was listening to Mintcast 400 yesterday and was a little surpised as to the commentry about flatpaks and Linux Mint. Linux Mint has been offering automatic updates to Flatpaks via the Update Manager for some time. I personally have been doing it since v20.1 when I decided to try it out after doing it manually via the command line for some time.

In the Update Manager, go to:

Edit | Preferences | Automation

and toggle “update flatpaks automatically” and voila! All done.

Congratulations on reaching episode 400 🙂

Phil (Perth WA)

Sent with Proton Mail secure email.

— Play Check This Transition Bumper —

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10 minutes

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