Episode 404 Show Notes

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Welcome to mintCast

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

This is Episode 404!

This is Episode 404.5!

Recorded on Sunday the 22nd January 2023

I’m Moss, remember me? The Host is a buzzkill, I’m Joe, He is Billiam

— Play Standard Intro —

  • First up in the news, RPi adds an autofocus camera, Fairphone2 hits EOL, more Tenacity than ever, new Unity, Xubuntu Minimal arrives soon, Brave adds Bridges, Kodi 20 is released, Libvirt 9.0 is out, Google gets shot down, and new features arrive in Firefox 109;
  • In security and privacy, nothing to see here, move along;
  • Then in our Wanderings, Moss is back, Joe has fun with a Pihole, and Bill takes some OTC stuff;
  • In our Innards section, we cover what we think are the best distros and a few up-and-comers
  • And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions

— Play News Transition Bumper —

The News

20 minutes

  • New autofocus camera modules for Raspberry Pi(Joe)
    • from RaspberryPi.com
    • Announced Jan 9, the launch of Raspberry Pi Camera Module 3. Four different variants of Camera Module 3, starting at the familiar price of $25. They’ve produced Camera Modules with both visible-light and infrared-sensitive options, and with either a standard or wide field of view (FoV). And in place of the fixed-focus optics of its predecessors, Camera Module 3 provides powered autofocus, allowing you to take crisp images of objects from around 5cm out to infinity. There’s a video demo on the page.
  • Fairphone 2 hits End Of Life after 7 years of updates (Moss)
    • from ArsTechnica
    • It can be done. Android manufacturers can actually support a phone for a sizable amount of time. Fairphone has announced the end of life for the Fairphone 2, which will be March 2023. That phone was released in October 2015, so that’s almost seven-and-a-half years of updates.
    • Fairphone is a very small Dutch company with nowhere near as many resources as Google, Samsung, BBK, and the other Big-Tech juggernauts, yet it managed to outlast them with its support program. The whole goal of the company is sustainability, with easily repairable phones, available spare parts, and long update promises. The Fairphone 4 has a five-year hardware warranty and six years of updates, and the company’s reputation says it can provide that. Sadly, the phones only ship in the UK and Europe. The Fairphone 2 only promised “three to five years” of updates, and it blew that out of the water.
    • Updating the Fairphone 2 has been a huge undertaking for Fairphone, since it has mostly been doing it without Qualcomm’s help. Usually, the Android update process has a chain of custody, where Google updates the Android source code, your chip vendor takes that code and adds drivers and other binary blobs to it, then the phone manufacturer takes the chip vendor code and makes it work on a particular device. For Qualcomm, a short support cycle means it sells more chips, so it bowed out of the process pretty quickly, greatly complicating updates for Fairphone.
    • The Fairphone 2 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, a chip that Qualcomm ended support for with Android 6.0. In what is probably an Android ecosystem first, that lack of chipset support didn’t stop Fairphone, which teamed up with LineageOS and today ships Android 10 on the 7-year-old device. That’s not the newest OS in the world, but it passes all of Google’s Android compatibility tests. I’m sure there are newer amateur releases in the Android ROM community, but Fairphone’s Android 10 build is up to the standard of an official release, as opposed to the “tell me what doesn’t work” standard of many amateur ROM releases.
    • Fairphone doesn’t say why support is ending in March, but if it’s staying on Android 10, it was going to have to kill support sometime this year. Google only supports security patches for the last four versions of Android, so even Google will be shutting down Android 10 support soon.
    • If you want to keep rolling with the Fairphone 2, Fairphone says you do so at your own risk since it will soon be insecure. Fairphone says it still has a “limited” inventory of parts available in its web store, and if you send in your retired phone before the end of March, it will give you a 50 euro credit toward a new phone.
  • Two Audacity forks merge into Tenacity (Joe)
    • from Londoner, Fostodon
    • This is what happened: first, it was revealed that Saucedacity, yet another Audacity fork with the same purpose, was still being worked on. Someone from our community discovered it, talks ensued, and then we started merging together.
    • The code repository has also been moved from GitHub to Codeberg. https://codeberg.org/tenacityteam/tenacity The latest version 1.2.1 is called Saucedacity, but the next version 1.3 will revert to the Tenacity name. The feature freeze for 1.3 was announced today Jan 11. https://fosstodon.org/@tenacity/
    • Merged with Tenacity are Saucedacity and Audacium
  • Unity 7.7 available for testing (Moss)
    • from Unityd.org
    • From Rudra Saraswat:
    • Greetings Unity lovers! As you’re likely aware, we recently succeeded in running Unity 7.7 without Compiz. Based on this effort, we’ve created a new variant of Unity7. Presenting UnityX (superseding the previous effort with the same name), a new variant of Unity that retains all the features of Unity7, yet offers even more customization options (like using a window manager of your choice with Wayland support coming soon, replacing or even removing the panel etc). It doesn’t even require any of Ubuntu’s GTK patches. The look and feel of UnityX is akin to Unity7, but with added flexibility. You can install it from https://gitlab.com/ubuntu-unity/unity-x/unityx#manual-installation, until it’s in the Arch/Gentoo/Manjaro/Ubuntu repos. Both Unity7 and UnityX will be shipping in the upcoming Ubuntu Unity and Manjaro Unity releases. We can’t wait for you to try it out! Here are the features:
    • Dash and Launcher : The dash is not just visually identical to that of Unity 7.7, but also shares the same underlying code, resulting in a stable and reliable experience. You now have the added flexibility of adjusting the opacity of both the dash and the launcher through UnityX’s configuration file. Additionally, the launcher/dock has also been borrowed from Unity7 and it has been seamlessly integrated and works perfectly fine.
    • The HUD: We have an all-new HUD based on Plotinus, and you can see it in action in this screenshot (and it opens with Ctrl+Shift+P). It supports a lot more apps than Unity7’s HUD, and unlike Unity7’s HUD, can be opened simultaneously in multiple apps.
    • UnityX Control Center: The System Settings app is a fork of that of Unity7, but supports changing most of UnityX’s config. For the true tech aficionados among us, a (read: novel) configuration protocol has been devised, as expounded upon in the subsection below, specifically tailored to the requirements of elite power users with an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of the System™.
  • Xubuntu 23.04 will offer “Minimal” version, under 700 Mb
    • from OMGUbuntu
    • Xubuntu, one of the more minimally-minded spins, has revealed its planning to release a new ‘Xubuntu Minimal’ image starting with Ubuntu 23.04. It’s an expansion of the Xubuntu Core effort started back in 2015 but with a big ol’ rubber-stamp of officialdom on it.
    • In a post to the Ubuntu developer mailing list, Steve Langasek says Xubuntu Minimal “…parallels existing minimal install targets from the Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server images to provide a smaller install footprint without applications that the developers want installed as part of the default experience, but which are not essential.”
    • Xubuntu Minimal will be made available as a separate download. It will still use the Ubiquity installer and won’t require an active internet connection1 to complete installation. It will differ from the “xubuntu-minimal” option in the existing image by not installing everything and then removing what’s not needed for the minimal image.
  • Brave browser adds support for Tor Bridges (Joe)
    • from brave.com
    • The Brave Browser has had support for private browsing with Tor since 2018 as a way to give our users a way to protect their network privacy.
    • One request we have recently started to receive with increased frequency is support for Tor bridges. Bridges are a way for users to access the Tor network even when their government is blocking connections to the network. Starting with Brave 1.44, users in affected countries have had an easy way to circumvent these restrictions from the settings page (illustrations are on the linked page)
    • Once the desired bridge configuration is selected, new private windows with Tor will only attempt to connect to the Tor network via the specified bridge. More details can be found in our official documentation.
    • In addition to enabling our users to connect to bridges and relays graciously offered by volunteers in the Tor community, Brave will continue to contribute to increasing network capacity. Besides operating the relays we have been running since we launched private windows with Tor, we are now making it easy for our users to share their Internet connections with users in censored countries. Starting in version 1.47, Brave will enable users to install and turn on the Snowflake extension in a single click.
    • We [Brave] are proud to be a member of the Tor Project and are happy to be able to provide ways for our users to access the information they are looking for. Many of our websites, including Brave Search, are available natively on the Tor network via .onion addresses.
    • Note that if your personal safety depends on remaining anonymous, you should use the Tor Browser instead.
  • Kodi 20 released with AV1, Pipewire support (Moss)
    • from 9to5Linux
    • The Kodi 20 “Nexus” has been released today [January 15] as the latest stable update of this free, open-source, and cross-platform home theater software for GNU/Linux, Android, Raspberry Pi, iOS, tvOS, macOS, and Windows platforms.
    • Kodi 20 “Nexus” is a massive update that comes nearly two years after Kodi 19 “Matrix” to introduce major and exciting new features like support for the PipeWire multimedia server, AV1 hardware decoding on Linux via VA-API (Video Acceleration API), AV1 codec support for InputStream, as well as built-in Steam Deck controller support.
    • Also new is initial support for the NFS version 4 (NFSv4) network file system protocol, WS-Discovery (SMB discovery) for UNIX platforms (Linux, Android, and Apple), AV1 hardware decoding on Android, independent volume settings for GUI sounds, new Colour Picker window dialog, new media flags for HDR videos, and the ability to add video HDR type information to a video list item.
    • On top of that, Kodi 20 brings support for mounting optical media by default on Linux, native support for Apple M1 including native windowing and input handling, ACES/Hable tonemapping support and more BiCubic shaders for GLES on Linux, as well as support for read-only recordings.
    • Also for Linux users, there’s the ability to set HDR output when using the Generic Buffer Management (GBM) API, which provides a mechanism for allocating buffers for graphics rendering tied to the Mesa graphics stack.
    • Of course, there are also numerous improvements like support for specifying providers for PVR Channels and Recordings, better support for multi PVR Add-on scenarios, better Siri Remote handling on iOS and tvOS, as well as better subtitles support for the ASS/SSA, TX3G, SAMI, and WebVTT formats.
    • More details at the link
  • Libvirt 9.0 released
    • from Phoronix
    • Libvirt 9.0 was released on Monday [January 16] as the newest version of this Linux Virtualization API. This virtualization API backed by Red Hat continues to support a wide range of hypervisors and with the v9.0 release has added additional functionality.
    • Libvirt 9.0 adds support for external snapshot deletion with QEMU using its existing API, libvirt 9.0 with QEMU now supports PASST as “Plug A Simple Socket Transport” for connecting an emulated network device to the host’s network, QEMU external back-end support for SWTPM as a software Trusted Platform Module (TPM), support for passing file descriptors rather than passing files for the QEMU disk, and other additions.
    • Libvirt 9.0 also now prefers PNGs over PPM images for domain screenshots with QEMU, support for setting multiple nodes for the preferred NUMA policy when running on recent versions of the Linux kernel and libnuma, and various bug fixes.
  • Google Topics API for targeted ads gets shot down
    • from The Register
    • Google’s plan to reinvent ad targeting for the postponed post-cookie era has again been complicated by privacy concerns.After the Chocolate Factory’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) proposal for delivering interest-based ads in a privacy-preserving way turned out to have less privacy than the package’s ingredient list suggested, the ad biz reworked the technology and rebranded it Topics.
    • The Topics API, one of a number of ostensibly privacy-protecting technologies being developed under the Privacy Sandbox brand, has been sold as a way for web browsers to watch what people do online in a non-creepy way. It’s intended as a mechanism to determine and report people’s interests – such as hiking or fitness, to pick two innocuous examples – without revealing people’s identities to website operators and advertisers.
    • Third-party cookies, beloved by advertisers as a way to track people online, are on their way out because they’re a privacy disaster. Originally, this was supposed to have happened by the end of 2022, but cookies – identifiers servers deposit in client browsers – keep getting reprieves in the absence of any viable replacement. And the process has become slower still due to the intervention of regulators, roused by complaints from Google’s ad industry rivals that Privacy Sandbox tech might actually enable privacy and leave ad firms starved of precious data.
    • In the year since January 2022, when Topics displaced FLoC, various technical types have been kicking the tires of Topics and probing Google’s claims about the technology.
    • Last week, the Technical Architecture Group (TAG) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the web’s technical body, weighed in with its assessment of the Topics API. The group’s findings are not good news for Google.
    • In a post to the Topics code repository, TAG member from Digital Bazaar Amy Guy said the Topics API, intended to facilitate the sharing of interest data with third-parties while preserving privacy, does not achieve its goals.
    • “The Topics API as proposed puts the browser in a position of sharing information about the user, derived from their browsing history, with any site that can call the API,” explained Guy. “This is done in such a way that the user has no fine-grained control over what is revealed, and in what context, or to which parties.”
    • “It also seems likely that a user would struggle to understand what is even happening; data is gathered and sent behind the scenes, quite opaquely. This goes against the principle of enhancing the user’s control, and we believe is not appropriate behavior for any software purporting to be an agent of a web user.”
  • Firefox 109 – New Features, Updates, and Fixes (Moss)
    • from Mozilla.org
    • Major Changes:
    • Manifest Version 3 (MV3) extension support is now enabled by default (MV2 remains enabled/supported). This major update also ushers an exciting user interface change in the form of the new extensions button.
    • The Arbitrary Code Guard exploit protection has been enabled in the media playback utility processes, improving security for Windows users.
    • The native HTML date picker for date and datetime inputs can now be used with a keyboard alone, improving its accessibility for screen reader users. Users with limited mobility can also now use common keyboard shortcuts to navigate the calendar grid and month selection spinners.
    • Effective on January 16, Colorways will no longer be in Firefox. Users will still be able to access saved and active Colorways from the Add-ons and themes menu option.
    • The Recently Closed section of Firefox View now equips users with the ability to manually close/remove url links from the list.
    • The empty state messages and graphic components surfaced in Firefox View for the Tab Pickup and Recently Closed sections have been updated for an improved user experience.

— Play Security Transition Bumper —

Security and Privacy

10 minutes

  • YOU GET NOTHING!!!!!

— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —

Bi-Weekly Wanderings

30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)

  • Moss
    • Well, as anyone who listened to Episode 402 knew, I spent the weekend of January 6th in Atlanta at my annual filk convention, GAFilk. Apparently Those Who Listened did not include Bill or Joe, as I got some rather frantic messages as to whether I would be on the show… It was great to see all my friends again after 3 years of covid and I had a great time. I sold a few more CDs but not many.
    • I’m still having some fun times </sarcasm> with the T540p, this time being it didn’t update a file and couldn’t complete installing the latest kernel. I had to completely reinstall Mint and Bodhi on sda 3 and 4. That took about 5 hours out of time I was supposed to be spending with my wife. I then had Big Linux come up with a kernel panic and Q4OS have its own problems. In the end, I removed the Samsung SSD and made the Silicon Power SSD primary, reinstalling the DVD drive, and just installed Big Linux. It looks like I’ll be keeping this machine for testing only. I still have the Samsung drive intact, might be able to just slide it in something and have bootable Mint and Bodhi.
    • School is back in, although every time someone spots a snowflake they close the schools. I did get some work in on Friday.
    • I don’t remember whether I mentioned the new T580 for me and T590 for my wife in Episode 402, but I have them and they are working. I cleared my T560 and prepared it for sale… and haven’t posted it anywhere yet. Which means I have 3 machines and a dock for sale, one of which will need to be local only as it weighs too much to ship.
    • We are working on Distrohoppers’ Digest Episode 040, quite a milestone. We have exceeded expectations once again in terms of listenership, and we have a new host for our podcast distribution. Google killed off yet another of its services, Feedburner, so we have moved to Red Circle. We have offers to redo the website as well, and are thinking about it.
    • I have let ItsMoss-dot-com pretty much lay fallow. We only had a few new articles in 2022, but hope to increase our reach again in 2023. I completed my first full calendar year in Full Circle Weekly News, and am getting some good feedback.
  • Joe
    • Well I had some fun. My Pihole had stopped working a while ago and I finally got around to fixing it. At first I tried to simply force an update to the entire system by ssh’ing into it and doing an update manually. That seemed to work but then I set my router to use it as the DNS and suddenly I had no internet. This was a common theme. I also then pulled out a new micro SD card and started from the top with a fresh headless Raspbian install. I was able to setup all the files to get it to connect to the network headless and to turn on ssh and then I was able to install Pihole and view the dashboard but once again when I would point the router to the pi DNS then my network would have no internet connection. The local networking still worked but nothing else.
    • Very Frustrating for my family with network bouncing up and down like that. But it turns out the issue was not with the Pihole or any of the setup on that because I attempted to change a lot of the settings in there and nothing helped. The issue was on the router side. Evidently there are two locations with DNS settings one for WAN and one for LAN I was making changes on the WAN side and I should have been making the adjustment on the LAN side. I guess that is understandable. But after all the attempted changes to the routing table and the global DNS that the pi was using I think that I have everything setup the way that I want.
    • I do wonder what else I can do with that Pi Zero at the same time. Pihole is not very resource intensive and I think I could do more with that Pi. But then again I don’t want it doing too many things because that adds more chances for the whole thing to break down. Plus I still have 3 Pi Zeros that I can be using for other things. Plus a Pi 4 and a Pi 3 and a Pi 1. So I am looking into other projects that they would be good for. I am thinking it might be fun to move my audiobookshelf instance to pi zero but that would also require me to setup a large external hard drive for it.
    • I also got alow cost portable router because I could not find any of my other ones. I was able to get it set up in my garage so that I could have a close wifi connection for a couple of my devices that were having issues connecting to the network in the other room. Really cleaned up a lot of the issues that I was having with the OneGX.
    • I am still playing around with PSPs for a while yet but with the new methods to custom rom the PS vita and the things that you can do with it i would really like to get one of these days. The price is still a bit high for them, even the broken ones, and i kind of understand the device was ahead of its time and for how much it can play when rooted it still seems very competitive to modern mid range hand helds. And with the PS network shutting down for them either the price will skyrocket as more people use them for emulation or the price will drop as people move away from them. I need less expensive hobbies.
    • My 20th wedding anniversary is coming up. woohoo. do want to do something nice for it but that will depend on what the wife wants.
  • Bill
    • So last weekend Leo, Norbert, and I recorded our first episode of Linux OTC, and I think it went well. The recording went on for over an hour and 42 minutes, but the conversation was engaging and interesting from start to finish. Originally, I intended to focus the episode on introductions, origin stories, and predictions but the conversation quickly took on a life of it’s own. I have no regrets as this was my original intent with regards to the format of the show. I was surprised when Friday night on the way back from Tennessee, I received a notification on the WordPress app indicating a comment on the website for episode one. At first I imagined it would be some time before anyone knew we existed, but after checking the metrics on Redcircle, I was delighted to see over 130 downloads – not bad for a debut if I do say so myself. Right now – episodes drop at midnight US Eastern time on the Sundays opposite those which mintCast streams. I’m exited for the future of the show, and look forward to any input we can get from the community. Head over to linuxotc.org for all the info you need.
    • So this past week I decided to see what the state of Wayland on Plasma is and how well I can get it to work on my Omen which has an Nvidia optimus chipset. For several years now I’ve been using a project called Optimus-manager to switch back and forth between the Nvidia graphics card and the integrated Intel SOC. This only really works well on Xorg and the bigest drawback to this method is that you can only choose the video card at login. So, if you need to switch from one card to the other, you have to log out and log back in. Not the most efficient method possible. About a year has passed since I switched back to x on my laptop so I thought I’d check in on the status of things. Much to my delight, Plasma actually works better on that machine than X. My omen has a 15 inch 4k screen, which never really layed out things correctly. Scaling worked, but never really consistantly. Some elements would scale correctly, and some wouldnt. And there was often a sort of blurryness involved. With wayland everything just works as it should. Scaling was accurate and applied evenly to every element. I have to also say the sharpness was far superior as well.
    • I was so satisfied with the progress of Wayland on Nvidia Optimus enabled machines, I decided to try my luck and see how well gaming had progressed in the last year. So – I went for broke; installed steam, downloaded Skyrim, and let her rip. Under Wayland you can have the intel card doing most of the rendering and append “prime-run” to whatever command starts a program that you want to use the Nvidia card. It all ran swimmingly. I was able to play Skyrim and Halo Master chief. Games run with the highest graphical settings, and are synced up. I get a frame drop or two every now and then, but that’s probably more to do with the power of the card it’s self. So Wayland for the win. I also installed steam with the same games on this machine, and everything works well here as well. That should come as no surprise though since this is an AMD Ryzen so the firmware is readily available. Skyrim was always a bit of a cludge on Linux because the audio tracks are seperate and didn’t always work well. All of that is fixed now. So gaming on Linux for the win!Shape6

— Play Innards Transition Bumper —

Linux Innards

30 minutes (~5-8 minutes each)

Favorite Distros and Distros To Watch

  • Mint, duh
    • Joe: Mint is a very drop it in and use it. While it is customizable if that is your thing, you can use it without any modification. It is good for anyone that is used to older operating systems like XP meaning that it can work well for older users or less technical users. Mostly it just works
  • Fedora
    • Joe: Fedora is one of those distros with a great community behind it and instructions for just about everything you could want to do on it. It would be my second or third choice for a drop in replacement. I have found it to be more useful on a touch screen or tablet than some other operating systems and is not my favorite for multi monitor but it is somewhat easy to use. Some of that is probably more of a reflection on Gnome than it is Fedora
  • Bodhi
    • Moss: My favorite. Superlight, quick, and with a special desktop. Moksha is based on Enlightenment E17, made more stable and featuring all working functions of later versions backported. Version 6 has been out for a while and version 7 is just ahead. It’s a small but friendly international team, and they still support 32-bit machines (version 5.1 based on Ubuntu 18.04 and version 6 beta based on Debian 11).
  • Big Linux
    • Moss: This is a new Manjaro derivative from Brazil, running Plasma Desktop and new tools, such as Big-Store replacing Discover. In theory, you can use the normal built-in upgrade manager, and never have to use terminal for updates.
  • OpenMandriva Lx 5 & ROME
    • Moss: This is the most complete remaining distro in the Mandrake lineage. Lx 5 is in testing and ROME, the rolling version of this distro, has already been released, ready to accept the v. 5 files when they arrive. To be honest, it’s a slow roller; the team does not like releasing apps before they are fully tested. A large and friendly community makes this a distro to pay attention to, and the Plasma desktop has been polished to the level of sheer beauty.
  • Garuda
    • Joe: This is one of my favorite backup distros because it is very full featured and still easy to use with its installer. A good choice for out of the box gaming and if you want to be on the bleeding edge of tech.
  • MX Linux
    • Joe: MX is my choice for lower resource systems. It is still modern while being a full fledged operating system. Not as paired down as something like puppy or DSL it is still good for older hardware or lower cost hardware including a 32 bit version last time i checked.
  • Ubuntu
    • Joe: An obvious choice as a replacement for Mint if you dont want to install that for whatever reason. Other than some philosophical issues with the packaging system and choosing the desktop that you want, it is extremely easy to transition to from Mint or really anything else. This would not be my first go to simply because i am more used to Mint and if i am going to go out of my way to install something else then it will probably be Garuda or MX depending on the need.
  • Honorable Mentions
    • Raspberry Pi OS, vanilla Arch, Alpine, Steam OS, KDE, LMDE, Debian
  • Bill’s List
    • Desktop
      • Elementary OS
      • Ubuntu (Any flavor really with some exceptions)
      • Debian
      • Mint
      • Arch
    • Server
      • Debian
      • CentOS
      • Armbian
      • Raspberry pi OS
      • Ubuntu Server

— Play Vibrations Transition Bumper —

Vibrations from the Ether

20 minutes (~5 minutes each)

— Play Check This Transition Bumper —

Check This Out

10 minutes

  • from londonerTime Switch is an easy to use graphical program that allows you to power off, reboot or suspend your system, send a notification (optionally with a sound signal) or execute any command on a timer. The app is built for GNOME and uses LibAdwaita, but it works in any desktop environment. The source code is available from GitHub. It is also available as a FlatPak and is also in the AUR.
  • PySolFC – We are each trying out the new Flatpak of my old favorite game. It works. I don’t like it much. It does not include the cardsets, and has new icons in the taskbar which are too modern for the likes of an old fart like me. I am told the Snap includes the cardsets.
  • Unix is Dead! – Great article on the fact that all active development of UNIX has ended.

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