Episode 408 Show Notes

Welcome to mintCast

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

This is Episode 408!

Recorded on Sunday the 19th March 2023

Really looking for some new hosts, its Joe; since I have nothing better to do today, I’m Moss

— Play Standard Intro —

  • First up in the news: Meet Ubuntu Flatpak Remix, KDE Plasma 6 Begins, No Peeking, Vanilla goes to Debian, LibreOffice 7.4.6, Nitrux goes “sh”, Elementary updates, DuckDuckGo goes AI on Wikipedia, Debian gets new APT, Proton joins the fight against censorship, Firefox 111 features, Kali 2023.1 released, and Wine 8.4 with old Wayland released;
  • In security and privacy, Brave needs no permission to do Google, NordVPN open sources code;
  • Then in our Wanderings, we are posting no Bills this episode,
  • In our Innards section, Joe talks ffmpeg;
  • And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions

— Play News Transition Bumper —

The News

20 minutes

  • KDE Plasma 6 Begins
    • from PointieStick.com
    • This week the “master” branch of Plasma-aligned software repos have been ported to Qt 6. Work is ongoing, but the actual change-over is happening very quickly, and adventurous people are able to run Plasma 6 in a usable state already! This builds on years of work to port old code away from deprecated APIs and libraries that was just quietly happening in the background all along, pushed along by people like Nicolas Fella, Friedrich Kossebau, Volker Krause, and many others. It can be fairly thankless and boring-looking work, but it’s incredibly important, and the foundation of how quickly this technical transition has been able to happen. So I find myself feeling quite optimistic about our chances of shipping a solid and high quality Plasma 6 this year!
    • Plasma 5.27 continues to be maintained and bugfixed!
    • There’s now an option to change the visual intensity of the outline drawn around Breeze-decorated windows, or to disable them entirely. Currently this is slated to be released in Plasma 6.0, but they’re considering backporting it to 5.27 as well.
    • The new portal-based “Open With” dialog is no longer used by non-portal-using apps; they now get the older dialog again. This is still the future design direction, but they plan to roll the new dialog out again only once it has all the features of the old dialog, so that nothing is lost in the transition.
    • Notifications in the history pop-up are now sorted chronologically, rather than by a somewhat difficult to understand combination of type and urgency.
    • The way sizes and positions of KDE app windows are remembered for multi-screen setups is now fundamentally more robust, so you should see fewer circumstances of windows having the wrong size and position when using multiple screens, especially when the specific screens change.
    • It’s now possibly to directly delete items that are already in the trash.
    • And many bugfixes!
  • Linux GIF Recorder “Peek” discontinued by developer
    • from OMGUbuntu
    • In an announcement posted on Peek’s GitHub page the application’s developer, Philipp Wolfer, explains their reasons for winding down the project, which hasn’t seen any major feature update in over 2 years.
    • “While I am happy the UI worked as it did, there are too many technical challenges with it that I think Peek’s UI has no future. Many of these have to do with how Wayland changed the way applications are being handled.”
    • Detailing the specific challenges presented by the arrival of GTK4 and Wayland – challenges that are too great to overcome with Peek in its current state — Philipp concludes that the changes needed would benefit from a new project, with a new UI, and a clean slate.
    • Sadly, they’re something they say they have no interest in doing.
    • The deprecation of Peek is definitely a loss for the wider Linux app ecosystem. It was a well-built app with an effective design that filled a gap in the market. Current versions of the app will continue to work until they don’t.
  • Vanilla OS 2 goes to Debian
    • from VanillaOS. Org
    • After discussions and considerations, VanilaaOS decided to move away from Ubuntu and base the distribution on Debian Sid.
    • For this reason, the version name and codename were changed, starting with 2.0 Orchid, as Vanilla derives from Orchids.
    • Why the switch to Debian Sid?
      • It is closer to a vanilla experience than in Ubuntu. There were efforts to revert Canonical’s opinionated workflow, but it was time-consuming. It forced us to focus on reverting these changes. Ubuntu provides a modified version of the GNOME desktop, which does not match how GNOME envisions its desktop. One of the high-level goals of Vanilla OS is to be as vanilla as possible, so they reverted many of these changes to reach that goal.
      • There is no strong opinion on application distribution. Snap is the primary method to get apps on Ubuntu. Based on our testing and many sources online, there are a lot of issues that Snap hasn’t addressed currently, like slow startups, centralization, etc. They prefer to push open and cross-organization efforts, like Flatpak. The switch to Debian Sid will also address a core issue brought to us by many in the community, that most native applications installed in apx’s Ubuntu container are a Snap transitional package, which doesn’t work inside the container.
      • They get more flexibility in releasing updates with the switch. They didn’t have much flexibility in publishing Vanilla OS releases before, as we needed to follow Ubuntu’s release cadence.
      • They are already familiar with deb packages and Debian.
    • Updates will be released whenever they are deemed ready or when it is essential or critical (like security updates).
    • Some issues with rebasing to a rolling release model and using it as a point release model are increasing security risks and potentially decreasing stability.
    • They decided to limit the number of packages shipped directly to the user as much as possible to decrease the overall footprint. Vanilla OS provides a small base (excluding A/B partitions) and strongly encourages alternative technologies like apx, Distrobox, Nix and Flatpak. They will be referring to Debian Security Advisories.
    • Likewise, for stability, the limited amount of core packages shipped to the user means that they will only be testing the base image, as it is the only one officially supported.
    • If stability and security issues are run into down the line, then they will reconsider our decision.
  • Release of LibreOffice 7.4.6 Community Edition
    • from DocumentFoundation.org
    • March 9, 2023 – The Document Foundation announces the release of LibreOffice 7.4.6 Community, the sixth minor release of the LibreOffice 7.4 family. The new release is immediately available from https://www.libreoffice.org/download/ for Windows (Intel and Arm processors), macOS (Apple and Intel processors), and Linux.
    • LibreOffice claims to offer the highest level of compatibility in the office suite market segment, with native support for the OpenDocument Format (ODF) – beating proprietary formats for security and robustness – to superior support for MS Office files, to filters for a large number of legacy document formats, to return ownership and control to users.
  • Release of Nitrux 2.7 “sh”
    • from nxos.org
    • Nitrux 2.7.0 “sh” is available to download March 6, 2023.
    • The 6.1.15-1 Liquorix kernel is now the default in the distribution.
      • KDE Plasma to version 5.27.2, KDE Frameworks to version 5.103.0, and KDE Gear to version 22.12.3.
      • Firefox to version 110.0.1.
      • updated MESA to version 23.1~git2303050600.af9536~oibaf~l.
      • added OpenVPN.
      • added open-iscsi.
      • updated the Nvidia proprietary driver to version 525.89.02.
      • multiple bug fixes
  • Elementary 7 Updates
    • from blog.elementary.io
    • On March 6, Danelle Fore announced the first round of updates to Elementary OS 7, including both great feature updates and a long list of fixes for reported issues. Work is prioritized based on user feedback.
    • The new Files release features the new app menu in the headerbar. Jeremy put together this menu to better improve discoverability for features like zoom and undo/redo as well as to clean up folder context menus. The Undo and Redo buttons include tooltips showing what operation will be performed before you click them and they also updated the description for the double-click setting to make it more clear. They also fixed a number of reported issues including some off click behavior above and below text in the list view, case sensitivity in file path completion, and issues with MTP and PTP devices that have a colon in their name. Plus they reworked how the File Chooser handles typing focus when saving.
    • The network indicator has been getting some major design attention and now offers a much better experience for using VPNs. Most options now appear as circular toggle buttons with icons instead of a list of switches. This new design both saves space on devices with complex network configurations and shows the status of your various connections much clearer, including intermediate and error states. In the case of VPNs, you can now also activate multiple connections at once. They’ve also added quick access to toggling Airplane Mode, including a middle-click action on the indicator icon. Plus, they’re now using a feature of Network Manager to automatically get better device names so you’ll rarely see long and cryptic device names any longer. And you may notice some subtly improved icons like a slightly larger Wi-Fi icon with rounded edges.
    • This release of the window manager contains over a dozen fixes for reported issues thanks to Leo’s hard work. This includes things like performance improvements and smoother animations, fixes for issues with shadows, improved ability to optionally disable animations, better handling of keyboard shortcuts in Multitasking View, and lots of code cleanup. Plus a fix that avoids accidentally closing windows when using three-finger multi-touch gestures. Reading the full release notes is strongly recommended because this is a big one!
    • AppCenter received a new Flatpak Repair feature thanks to Marius which fixes an issue where some Flatpak runtimes could not be installed. Plus the updates page now shows a small message when everything is up-to-date, including the last time that AppCenter checked for updates.
    • And thanks to the hard work of Marco and Gustavo our Portals—things like the app chooser and access dialogs—have now been ported to GTK 4!
  • DuckDuckGo unveils new Wikipedia AI Summary bot
    • from ArsTechnica
    • Not to be left out of the rush to integrate generative AI into search, on March 8th DuckDuckGo announced DuckAssist, an AI-powered factual summary service powered by technology from Anthropic and OpenAI. It is available for free today as a wide beta test for users of DuckDuckGo’s browser extensions and browsing apps. Being powered by an AI model, the company admits that DuckAssist might make stuff up but hopes it will happen rarely.
    • Here’s how it works: If a DuckDuckGo user searches a question that can be answered by Wikipedia, DuckAssist may appear and use AI natural language technology to generate a brief summary of what it finds in Wikipedia, with source links listed below. The summary appears above DuckDuckGo’s regular search results in a special box.
    • The company positions DuckAssist as a new form of “Instant Answer”—a feature that prevents users from having to dig through web search results to find quick information on topics like news, maps, and weather. Instead, the search engine presents the Instant Answer results above the usual list of websites.
  • New Version of APT coming to Debian
    • from TheRegister.com
    • The forthcoming “Bookworm” release of Debian, version 12, will include a new version of the APT packaging tools, with better handling of non-free software.
    • Debian releases are given code names from the Toy Story series of movies; Bookworm, if you’re curious, was a “minor antagonist” from Toy Story 3. Debian 13 will be Trixie, and Debian 14 will be Forky.
    • The APT packaging system is “probably the best feature in Debian”, as a commentator already observed back in 2004. APT is remarkably stable: the new release will be only version 2.6.0.
    • APT first arrived in Debian 2.1 Slink in 1999, and it has been a slow-moving and pretty stable project ever since. It took 15 years to reach version 1.0, released on April Fool’s Day in 2014. APT 1.0 was also the version where the apt command first appeared, followed by its incorporation into Ubuntu 14.04.
    • (For comparison, automatic dependency resolution came to the Red Hat family when Fedora Core 1 included yum – co-developed by the late Seth Vidal – in 2003. It was replaced with DNF in Fedora 22 in 2015. Before this, installing a moderately-complex package on Red Hat Linux was a nightmarish process that could involve retrieving and manually installing many dozens of dependencies.)
    • The fixes in the new release are relatively modest. There’s some refinement to the Czech language translation, some tweaks to the COPYING file to include some additional licenses, and better handling of the changelog subcommand.
    • The main change relates to handling of non-free firmware, which is Debian’s term for the properietary firmware “blobs” (Binary Large Objects) that are needed for a lot of modern hardware to work. We have examined the problems of proprietary firmware before, as well as the impacts upon the Debian project in particular.
    • In essence, the increasing prevalence of proprietary firmware is due to industry-wide cost-cutting: it’s cheaper to use a non-dedicated, general-purpose chip, running some small specialized program to enable it to do its job, than it is to design, implement and build bespoke custom hardware to do the same job.
    • That leads to a problem: your computer may not work fully until the operating system has downloaded various of these BLOBs into its various network interfaces, its GPU and so on. That in turn means that if the boot medium from which you install the computer doesn’t include this firmware, then the new OS may not be able to connect to the Internet and go online to fetch what it needs.
    • As a result, Bookworm will be the first ever Debian release to include non-free firmware as standard. This is quite a big deal, and some of the changes involved are still working their way down the software stack… even though this release is already part of the way through the staged process of feature freeze.
  • Meet Ubuntu Flatpak Remix, Ubuntu with Flatpak Support Preinstalled
    • from 9to5linux via londoner
    • That was fast! After Canonical’s announcement that future Ubuntu releases won’t include Flatpak support by default (that we discussed in our last episode), someone already made an unofficial Ubuntu flavor that ships with support for Flatpak apps preinstalled and working out of the box, called Ubuntu Flatpak Remix.
    • Meet Ubuntu Flatpak Remix, an unofficial Ubuntu derivative that doesn’t feature support for Snap apps and comes with support for Flatpak apps working out of the box.
    • Several key apps are preinstalled in the Flatpak format rather than as a Snap app, including the Mozilla Firefox web browser, Mozilla Thunderbird email client, and LibreOffice office suite. A recent version of the Mesa graphics stack, 22.3.5, is installed as well for gamers.
    • The best part of this approach is that these preinstalled Flatpak apps are in their latest versions, especially the LibreOffice 7.5 office suite. The upstream Ubuntu 22.04.2 LTS release doesn’t come with the latest LibreOffice version, but an old and unsupported one, namely LibreOffice 7.3.
    • Support for the Flathub portal is installed as well, so you’ll be able to install more apps with just a few clicks.
    • The Flatpak Remix of Ubuntu features the awesome GNOME desktop, with Canonical’s attention to detail – unchanged from the standard release,” said Ubuntu Flatpak Remix creator Jay LaCroix. “While the standard release of Ubuntu features support for Snap Packages built-in, with this distribution the focus is on Flatpak instead.
    • The developer of Ubuntu Flatpak Remix (also known for his Learn Linux TV channel on YouTube and Ubuntu Server books – londoner) notes the fact that his derivative wasn’t created due to some sort of grudge against Canonical or the Snap package format, but as a solution for Ubuntu fans who don’t like Snaps and prefer Flatpaks.
    • So there you have it! If you don’t want to go through all the trouble of removing Snap support from Ubuntu and installing Flatpak/Flathub support, you can download Ubuntu Flatpak Remix right now from the official website by clicking on the link below.
    • However, please note that this is an alpha version that may come with bugs, so it’s not recommended to be used for production. Also, let’s hope that future versions will be based on newer Ubuntu releases, such as the upcoming Ubuntu 23.04 (Lunar Lobster).
    • Download Ubuntu Flatpak Remix
    • YouTube Video 10m40s
  • Fedora Gets A New Beta
    • from fedoramagazine.org
    • On March 10th, the Fedora Project announced the availability of Fedora Linux 38 Beta, the next step towards a planned Fedora Linux 38 release at the end of April.
    • Fedora 38 Workstation Beta includes GNOME 44. It’s currently in beta, with a final release expected at the end of March. GNOME 44 includes a lot of great improvements, including a new lock screen, a “background apps” section on the quick menu, and improvements to accessibility settings . In addition, enabling third-party repositories now enables an unfiltered view of applications on Flathub.
    • Packages are now built with stricter compiler flags that protect against buffer overflows. The rpm package manager uses a Sequoia-based OpenPGP parser instead of its own implementation.
    • If you’re profiling applications, you’ll appreciate the frame pointers now built into official packages. This makes Fedora Linux a great platform for developers looking to improve Linux application performance.
    • Of course, there’s the usual update of programming languages and libraries: Ruby 3.2, gcc 13, LLVM 16, Golang 1.20, PHP 8.2, and much more!
    • Beta testers are needed and greatly appreciated!
  • Proton joins the fight against censorship
    • from ProtonVPN blog
    • “The year 2022 represents a new low when it comes to online access to information and freedom of expression. It was the twelfth year in a row that online freedom declined, according to Freedom House’s Freedom On the Net report. There were some obvious causes. Since its unjust invasion of Ukraine, Russia has ramped up its censorship efforts. Similarly, the military junta that has taken over Myanmar has reintroduced draconian online censorship. And China remained the world’s worst offender for the eighth straight year when it comes to denying its citizens online freedom.
    • “But the problem is also widespread. A record 35 countries blocked access to the internet in 2022, according to Access Now. Many of these countries, like Myanmar and Iran, are run by authoritarian leaders, but the worst offender in 2022 was India, the world’s most populous democracy. It imposed over 80 internet blackouts, most of which affected the contested regions of Kashmir and Jammu.
    • “This being said, there are some glimmers of hope: According to Freedom House, 26 countries saw their internet freedom improve, including the United States, which is still one of the most influential online spaces globally. There’s also been a broader push by everyday people worldwide to fight back against internet censorship. People everywhere are fighting to restore access to the open internet, either in the courts or by downloading and using VPNs to bypass the blocks.
    • “For this year’s World Day Against Cyber Censorship, we’ll look at how fighting for a free and open internet is integral to Proton VPN and the future of censorship.
    • “Authoritarian governments, including Turkey, Russia, and Belarus, still occasionally attempt to block Proton Mail, but Proton VPN makes it much more difficult. Since 2017, Proton VPN has grown to help millions of people all around the world access crucial information, stay in touch with friends and family, and express themselves in the face of online censorship.
    • “We view the freedom of expression and the freedom of information as vital human rights, and we’ve worked with anti-censorship organizations worldwide to fight for a free and open internet. This effort has been led by the Proton community. Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to donate to vital anti-censorship technologies, including:
      • WireGuard
      • Tails
      • Tor
    • “You’ve also enabled us to work with organizations that provide vital support to journalists and fight censorship in all its forms, including:
      • Sponsoring a Reporters Without Borders (RSF) journalist digital security program
      • Partnering with RSF
      • Leading a training session with the Second Asian Investigative Journalism Conference in Kathmandu, Nepal
      • Partnering with Deutsche Welle
      • Supporting Access Now
      • Supporting Netblocks
    • “None of this would have been possible without the support and generosity of the Proton community. Every person that subscribes to a paid plan helps fund our work that is providing vital internet access. It’s thanks to you that we have been able to stand up for online freedoms in Hong Kong, Russia, and other authoritarian countries.
    • “We hope every member of the Proton community is proud of the work they’ve enabled.We launched Proton VPN in 2017, roughly three years after we launched our end-to-end encrypted email service, Proton Mail. We launched Proton Mail in response to the Snowden revelations that exposed a global system of mass surveillance. As an end-to-end encrypted email service that could protect people’s messages, Proton Mail became popular with journalists worldwide who used it to communicate with their sources. In many places with authoritarian governments, Proton Mail ended up getting blocked. This gave us the idea to launch Proton VPN. “
    • Also noted that another VPN provider, Mullvad, has been blanketing Sweden with pro-privacy, anti-censorship ads in English and Swedish.
  • Firefox 111 New Features
    • from Mozilla.org
    • New
      • Firefox Relay users can now opt-in to create Relay email masks directly from the Firefox credential manager. You must be signed in with your Firefox Account.
      • We’ve added two new locales: Silhe Friulian (fur) and Sardinian (sc).
    • Fixed
      • Various security fixes
    • Web Platform
      • Use of the rel attribute is now supported on form elements, allowing the specification of the relationship between the current document and the form target in a simpler, cross-browser way.
      • Origin private file system access is now enabled, a new storage API that enables web applications to store and retrieve data from and to the filesystem in a sandbox.
  • Kali Linux 2023.1 Release
    • from Kali.org
    • March 13th release of Kali 2023.1 (and on our 10th anniversary), ready for immediate download or updating.
    • Given its their 10th anniversary, there are a few special things lined up to help celebrate. Read the blog post dated Wednesday 15th March 2023 12:00:00 UTC/+0 GMT for more information!
    • The changelog summary since the 2022.4 release from December:
      • Kali Purple – The dawn of a new era. Kali is not only Offense, but starting to be defense
      • Python Changes – Python 3.11 & PIP changes going forward
      • 2023 Theme – Our once a year theme update! This time, what’s old is new again
      • Desktop Updates – Xfce 4.18 & KDE Plasma 5.27
      • Default Kernel Settings – What makes the Kali kernel different
      • New Tools – As always, various new tools added
    • More information at the link in the show notes, including an in-depth discussion of Kali Purple.
  • Wine 8.4 Released With The Early Wayland Graphics Driver Code, 51 Bug Fixes
    • from Phoronix

— Play Security Transition Bumper —

Security and Privacy

10 minutes

  • Brave Browser Signs Google Permission
    • brave.com
    • Starting in version 1.51, Brave will increase user privacy by extending the brower’s permission system to cover legacy Google Sign-In (which needs third-party cookies, or other unsatisfactory techniques, to allow users to log in to sites with their Google account). This new feature will replace Brave’s existing option of a global “allow” or “deny” setting for handling legacy Google Sign-Ins. This feature will be available on desktop and Android, and is another way Brave is retrofitting best-in-class privacy protections to Web APIs that were designed without concern for user privacy.
    • Google, like many popular account-based sites, allows people to use their Google account to log in to other sites. This feature, sometimes called single-sign on (SSO), has both security benefits and privacy risks.
    • SSO systems can be helpful in several ways. First, SSO systems are very convenient for users, and remove the need to go through often-tedious account creation processes on different sites. Second, and more importantly, SSO systems in general (and “Sign in with Google” in particular) can improve user security. Instead of users needing to trust dozens or hundreds of websites with usernames and passwords (sites that may have wide-ranging security practices), users can instead benefit from Google’s top-notch security features, even on sites not belonging to Google. Examples of Google’s security bona fides include two factor authentication (2FA), advanced account protection features, and a security team that is among the best in the field.
    • However, SSO systems can also be harmful to users. For example, the centralized nature of SSO systems means that any flaws can have repercussions across the Web1. More relevant to this post, SSO systems can also harm user privacy, depending on how they are built and implemented. SSO systems necessarily involve the SSO-provider learning at least something2 about a user’s actions on another site, and many systems allow the SSO-provider to learn a great deal of sensitive and private information.
    • In most cases, Brave already protects a user’s privacy when they interact with Google Sign-In. Unless people intentionally and explicitly use their Google account to log in to sites, Brave prevents Google from learning about those sites.
    • However, there are many ways sites can integrate with Google Sign-In, the oldest of which relies on unrestricted third-party cookies. To combat this, by default Brave applies the strongest third-party cookie protections of any popular browser. This has the upside of providing robust, best-in-class privacy protections, though with the occasional downside of causing compatibility problems with systems that depend on unrestricted third-party cookies.
    • Starting with version 1.51, Brave has removed the exception and the global toggle, and moved to a permissions-based system. This allows users to control when (or if) a third-party cookie is sent to Google, while still taking advantage of the convenience and security provided by “Google Sign-In.” If the website already uses the new Google Identity Services for Web solution which doesn’t use third-party cookies for signing in, there’s no change.
    • Brave’s new “Google Sign-In” permission builds on previous privacy improvements Brave applies to permission handling in Chromium, including the ability to control how long a permission lasts for, and to partition permissions in third-party iframes.
  • NordVPN open-sources its Linux client and libraries
    • from BleepingComputer
    • Nord Security (Nord) has released the source code of its Linux NordVPN client and associated networking libraries in the hopes of being more transparent and easing users’ security and privacy concerns.
    • Yesterday, Nord announced that they were making their NordVPN MeshNet private tunneling feature free for all users who install their software, even if they do not have a paid subscription.
    • This feature allows users to create private tunnels between other NordVPN users to access the internet through the shared network or access internal devices, such as private game servers.
    • As part of this announcement, NordVPN released the source code for its Linux applications and two libraries – Libtelio and Libdrop.
    • “We’re making these products open source as a sign of our commitment to transparency and accountability,” reads Nord’s announcement.
    • “We want the input and scrutiny of the coding community and to show you that we have confidence in our own software.”
    • All three projects are now on Nord Security’s GitHub page, with full instructions on compiling the NordVPN Linux and libraries.
    • The LibDrop library is part of Nord’s MeshNet feature, allowing users to send and receive files over the private tunnel.
    • The other library is the LibTelio networking library, which Nord says is heavily used across all NordVPN applications on all operating systems, is responsible for creating encrypted networks over the MeshNet feature.
    • “Open sourcing Libtelio is a particularly important step because this code forms the backbone of all our NordVPN applications, not just our Linux client,” explains Nord.
    • “Putting this material into the hands of the Linux community — one of the strongest open source communities currently active — encourages talented coders and developers to scrutinize our code and make our service better.”
    • Finally, the complete source code for the NordVPN Linux application can be downloaded and compiled, with the company encouraging users to modify it to fit their own needs.
    • Nord Security encourages users to scrutinize the source and report any bugs that may be found.
    • Security vulnerabilities in the Linux client can be reported to Nord Security’s HackerOne bug bounty program, with bugs rated as critical receiving bounties ranging from $10,000 to $50,000

— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —

Bi-Weekly Wanderings

30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)

  • Moss
    • I just got a new microphone, a Samson Q2U. Hope it sounds good.. This is the same mic that Bill has been using, and it has been recommended by other people as well.
    • I also got a new EBXYA 2×2 sound box, which will make my podcasts sound better and will also allow me to plug my guitar in for some music recording. Bill helped me get it all set up before yesterday’s meeting. Hope it helps.
    • I also got some new wireless earbuds, Lenovo thinkplus LivePods LP3 Pro, from Temu for $14.48. I think they may be a discontinued model, can’t find them on Amazon. Still, the case includes an LED readout as to the charge level, and you can also use the case to charge your phone via USB.
    • I couldn’t take all the cuteness of Cinnamon (plus some things just didn’t work “right”) so I installed Mate. My biggest issue was that I could not get access to all my directories to attach files to email, Telegram, or Discord, not all directories were made available by the file manager. In the past, I would have just started with a fresh installation, but I’ve been doing that too much lately so I just installed mate-desktop and ran with it. It feels good to be back home. I have deleted the Cinnamon programs libraries which felt “safe” to do, which hopefully will speed my updates as I will not be updating Cinnamon (if I got it right).
    • Distrohoppers’ Digest will be running a bit late this month, as Dale has had some issues on the road and has had to extend his work schedule. Current plans are to record it sometime next week.
    • I’ve had a few more substitute assignments this time period. More of the kids at the high school know me than I’m comfortable with, LOL.
  • Joe
    • A couple of fun weeks. I had ordered a different USB hub for my docking station that I built for the OneGX. The reason that I ordered one was because the old one would no longer do fast charging on my laptop. So I ordered a different one that was a different size. I removed the old one and tested the new one and it did charge as expected. My laptop requires a higher voltage USB C to stay charged. So I designed a carrier to add to the dock and put it into place. Then a day later it no longer works. So that is a second one down. I want to buy another and see if the same thing happens with the same device a second time. Otherwise I will have to find a more reliable one and probably redo the entire thing again. Annoying but doable.
    • Still it might be fun to redesign the whole thing. I do want to add in a hard drive or two on the bottom and maybe a couple of other things. But first I will probably reorder the same USB C dock with pd and see if it does the same thing. The mount I made for it I made so that I could just slip the old one out and the new one in.
    • I also think that on last show I mentioned the simple foot pedal that I made that acts as a cover for my USB switcher. I think that is the most useful simple print and design that I have done so far. I use it constantly when I am working from home to switch between devices. It is very simple but makes my life so much easier. Let me know if anyone else has a print they really like.
    • I think the reason that it has come to mind is that I had to reprint it again because there was a flaw in my last print with the hinge in the front of the print and I had to go without it for a couple of hours while the new one printed after a redesign of course. but it is back up and running again and better than ever. I have marked the Tinkercad file as shareable and placed it in the discord. I want to write it up a bit more along with the Sabrent switch that I am using on Thingiverse. Not sure how well it will do but it might be nice to give back a bit.
    • I was talking to Dann on one of my other shows and we he had recently installed KDE to test it out. So I suggested that he install KDE connect. So of course I was going through my installation of KDE connect and found out that it was one of my phone settings that was preventing it from working as opposed to a desktop setting. So now KDE SMS works for me without any issues. I still use gvoice for a lot of my phone messaging though. KDE SMS is ok but having used it now off and on I can see that it has a lot of issues with loading and with images and with emojis. Still it is an easy way to shoot off a quick simple text from a desktop.
    • I am still looking for some in ear headphones to work on. I have been keeping an eye on eBay for lots that I could work on and convert to MMCX in ears but I have not found any lots that look interesting. Let me know what your favorite wired in ears are and if the sound quality is any good. I still have a set of the one mores that sound decent and a couple of sets from the Level U-s but they are wearing out quick.
    • Job hunting sucks. I hate the whole process and this is a terrible time for it. But I need a raise so I am looking. Most of what I am getting is calls for contract work but that is what headhunters try to get you. I need to start applying to things directly so that is what I will be doing. I am willing to move but I am a bit limited on the locations that I can go to that will keep the spouse happy.

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Linux Innards

30 minutes (~5-8 minutes each)

  • This episode, we have had our guts ripped out, in sympathy with something Bill is doing…
  • We had been planning on talking about funding in open source and maybe getting a couple of key players on to talk about it but everything seemed to fall through at the 11th hour and we need to switch to a backup topic. So don’t be surprised if this isn’t up to our usually level of mediocrity.
  • I was actually talking to the guys over on linux lug cast to see if they had any ideas on last minute topics and one of them suggested picking my favorite command line tool and talking about that. What I actually landed on is a little different but close and will get into a bit of the command line is ffmpeg.
  • Ffmpeg is one of those tools that most people don’t think about but it is a staple to linux. So many tools use it in the background in some way and we don’t even realize it. So I am going to go over some of the history of FFMPEG and some of the places that it is used and also give an example of how I have used it in the recent past. The focus will not be on how to do all the things on the command line but I do want to show that it is a powerful and useful tool.
  • First some definition
    • ffmpeg is an open source project consisting of libraries and programs that handle video audio and multimedia. It is used for video and audio processing as well as transcoding editing and scaling.
    • It is packaged with a couple of other tools such as ffplay and ffprobe as well as many useful codecs
    • It is at the core of many of the things that we use everyday including, to name a few, VLC, Youtube, Audacity and plex. Not to mention Chrome and firefox kodi and blender Really I could spend all day naming programs that use ffmpeg and someone would still tell me that I missed some important ones. Like the one that I find the most interesting which is the Perseverance Rover on Mars that uses it for audio and video compression to send files back to Earth
    • Directly from the ffmpeg.org site it says ffmpeg is a very fast video and audio converter that can also grab from a live audio/video source. It can also convert between arbitrary sample rates and resize video on the fly with a high quality polyphase filter.
    • FFmpeg is the leading multimedia framework, able to decodeencodetranscodemuxdemuxstreamfilter and play pretty much anything that humans and machines have created. It supports the most obscure ancient formats up to the cutting edge. No matter if they were designed by some standards committee, the community or a corporation.
  • For some history
    • FFMPEG was started in 2000 Fabrice Bellard, the name was inspired by mpeg video standards and FF meaning fast forward. It is notable that many of the developers that worked on the early versions of ffmpeg also worked on mplayer.
    • FFMPEG contains more than 100 codecs that provide compression of one kind or another and is licensed under the LGPL but will switch to the GPL if it is linked against GPL libriaries.
    • Another important thing to mention is the fork of ffmpeg is libav. Libav was forked because of a disagreement between developers and leadership. The project was forked in 2011 but was abandoned in 2018
  • For the tings that I find interesting
    • Most video programs include FFMPEG as a part of the video processing pipeline due to its inclusion of the codecs for encoding and decodign of most audio and video formats, This allows it to be used for transcoding of many types of media into more common formats. While it is not something that I do everyday it is something I do on occasion on the command line for very specific things. Such as indirectly with youtube-dl when I want to make sure that something that I download will be in MP3 format or directly when I want to convert a video to something that a PSP can use or if I want to batch convert videos before sending them off to a raspberry pi version of plex so that the pi is not burdened with transcoding. Just mix with a little bit of cron and rsync and your files will magically appear in your plex server
    • Honestly in doing my research for this I am seeing a lot of different uses and definitions for what ffmpeg is and does.
  • For some creative uses directly on the command line
    • I mean you can use ffmpeg to do screencaptures and convert them to png using x11grab or take video captures of the desktop with lossless audio. This is perfect for creating tutorials for later dissemination so you don’t have to keep re-explaining the same thing over and over.
      • ffmpeg -f x11grab -video_size 1920×1080 -framerate 25 -i $DISPLAY -f alsa -i default -c:v libx264 -preset ultrafast -c:a aac screen.mp4
    • This is something I could see us on the mintcast using to create our audio editing tutorials for whomever we convince to to work on them next. We could split it up into multiple videos for the different things that we do and then as those things change over time we can replace the old sections with new sections.
    • Or use the commandline to capture from a webcam which I can already see ways to use in conjunction with a motion sensor for an in garage security device on a pi or a mini pc or maybe a drone
      • ffmpeg -f v4l2 -video_size 640×480 -i /dev/video0 -f alsa -i default -c:v libx264 -preset ultrafast -c:a aac webcam.mp4
    • In the past I have used it in conjunction with youtub-dl and some automation as a replacement for rss feeds when youtube was trying to make that difficult
    • Like I said I have also used it to transcode some videos so that could be watched from my PSP which doesn’t really have the ability to play anything other than the correct format
      • ffmpeg -y -i video.mp4 -flags +bitexact -vcodec libx264 -profile:v baseline -level 3.0 -s 480×272 -r 29.97 -b:v 384k -acodec aac -b:a 96k -ar 48000 -f psp -strict -2 videoattempt2.MP4
      • Adjusting the video size the framerate the audiocodec basically everything about the video so that it would play properly on the small screen
    • You can strip audio out of a video clip to manipulate it separate and then add it back into the video. This can be very useful although it is something that we normally will let a front end do for us. It is also something that you can do with youtube-dl which I have used in the past to get the audio for mintcast when something happened to our audacity recordings.
    • Evidently you can also use it to convert a video clip to a gif which I think would be cool
    • but at the most simple you can convert one video type to another
      • ffmpeg -i input.mp4 out.mkv
    • It can also be used for streaming
      • ffmpeg can stream one of two ways either to some other server which then restreams it to multiple other clients or stream udp tcp directly to a receiver or multicast destination. Commonly you would use either ffserver or vlc for the reception and or rebroadcast
  • plus a plethora of other things that I have not mentioned here
  • but basically if you are so inclined you could forgo a lot of the various front ends out there and do everything yourself from the command line. Not something that I would recommend. But I love that this tool exists and is used to create all those frontends. I also like that I don’t need to install them for just one thing and I also like the fact that since it is a command line tool and well documented I can create my own automation using it.

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Vibrations from the Ether

20 minutes (~5 minutes each)

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Check This Out

10 minutes

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