Episode 411 Show Notes

Welcome to mintCast

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

This is Episode 411!

This is Episode 411.5!

Recorded on Sunday the 30th April 2023

Joe; I’m still rolling as Moss’ Feeling fit and looking fancy, I’m Bill; Still doing his taxes, its Majid; with special guest Dale Miracle

— Play Standard Intro —

  • First up in the news, Linux Kernel 6.3 Officially Released, blendOS 2 supports Android, new Vivaldi out, new Opera One Dev Release, GIMP completes GTK3 rewrite, QEMU drops 32-bit, Ryzens are burning, Proton launches a password app, and Jetpack Announces the end of twitter auto-sharing;
  • In security and privacy, Mullvad foils a search warrant, and RTM Locker targets NAS and ESXi;
  • Then in our Wanderings, Joe goes 3D, Moss upgrades, Bill shuffles cards, Majid has a few lightbulb moments , and Dale has entered the Void.
  • In our Innards section, we talk about the origins of the desktop;
  • And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions

— Play News Transition Bumper —

The News

20 minutes

  • Linux Kernel 6.3 Officially Released
    • From 9to5linux.com
    • Linus Torvalds announced April 23 the release and general availability of Linux 6.3 as the latest and greatest kernel series for Linux-based operating systems bringing updated and new drivers for top-notch hardware support, as well as new features and enhancements.
    • Highlights of Linux kernel 6.3 include a new DRM accelerated driver for Intel VPU (Versatile Processing Unit) that supports VPU IP 2.7 integrated into 14th Generation Intel “Meteor Lake” client CPUs, Rust code support for x86_64 user-mode Linux, AES-SHA2-based encryption for the NFS file system, and support for AMD’s “automatic IBRS” feature.
    • Also new in the Linux 6.3 kernel is support for the “ZBB” bit-manipulation extension for RISC-V kernels, support for kernel address-space layout randomization and relocation for the LoongArch architecture, full support for BPF trampolines on RISC-V and IMB Z (s390x) systems, support for Hyper-V extended hypercalls for KVM (x86), and support for ARM SME (Scalable Matrix Extension) 2 instructions.
    • Other new features include support for system-call filtering on the m68k architecture, a new command-line parameter (cgroup.memory=nobpf) for disabling memory accounting and a new red-black tree data structure for BPF programs, support for ID-mapped mounts for the TMPFS file system, as well as per-CPU file-data decompression support for the EROFS file system.
    • There are also some great networking improvements in Linux kernel 6.3, starting with support for the PLCA (Physical Layer Collision Avoidance) Reconciliation Sublayer, BIG TCP support for IPv4, support for several new queuing disciplines, a new socket option to make it easier for multiple hosts to make outgoing connections through a NAT gateway, and support for multi-path TCP mixed flows for both IPv4 and IPv6.
    • New tools are present in Linux 6.3, including a new virtconfig build target for AArch64 systems that can be used to create a lightweight configuration for booting on virtual machines, a new hwnoise tool that can be used for measuring timing jitter caused by hardware, and a new Dhrystone benchmark test that’s built into the kernel.
    • There are also new and updated drivers to support devices like BananaPi R3 and Banana Pi BPI-M2 Pro SBCs, Samsung Galaxy tab A (2015) tablets, Rockchip RV1126 SoC, Orange Pi R1 Plus and Radxa Compute Module 3 IO single-board computers, Logitech G923 Xbox Edition steering wheel, EVision keyboards, and a new ath12k (mac80211) wireless driver for Qualcomm Wi-Fi 7 devices.
    • Moreover, Linux kernel 6.3 adds initial support for the Steam Deck‘s controller interface that currently only supports the controller’s inputs and toggling of the so-called “lizard mode”. In addition, there’s now support for Steam Deck’s rumble motors, supporting both the wired and the wireless adaptor.
    • “The Steam Deck also includes a heartbeat for lizard mode that switches it back on if no reports have been received within a few milliseconds. The official Steam client handles this by sending a handful of configuration reports every few ms, so we copy this behavior by sending configuration reports to disable the mouse and reset the digital mappings every 5ms,” reads the commit.
    • Linux 6.3 also improves Thunderbolt support by adding DisplayPort bandwidth allocation mode support, improves support for the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 (YT3-X90F) tablet, adds support for the 8BitDo Pro 2 wired controller, improves support for the Lenovo Yoga Book (X90F / X90L) 2-in-1 laptop, and introduces eBPF support for HID devices.
    • There’s also a new pata_parport driver based on libata and designed to handle IDE drives that are connected via parallel ports, deprecating the PARIDE drivers. Of course, there are numerous other updated and new drivers, so you should try this kernel version if your hardware doesn’t work with current kernels.
    • Linux kernel 6.3 is available for download right now from Linus Torvalds’ git tree here or from the kernel.org website if you fancy compiling it yourself on your GNU/Linux distribution. If that’s not your cup of tea, you will have to wait until it lands in your distro’s stable software repositories.
  • Ubuntu 23.04 is Now Available for Download (All Flavours) (Bill)
    • from OMGUbuntu
    • This update is the latest short-term release of the Ubuntu Linux operating system and is supported by 9 months of ongoing support, bug fixes, and critical app updates. This might not sound like a long time but Ubuntu 23.10 is released in 6 months time and users of this release will be able to upgrade to it.
    • Nothing in this release is revolutionary – but that’s not a bad thing.
    • There’s a big user experience uplift courtesy of GNOME 44 and enhancements, and a brand new Ubuntu installer helps improves the onboarding experience.
    • Foundationally, Ubuntu 23.04 runs on the latest Linux kernel 6.2 release, ships Mesa 23.0 graphics drivers (with in-distro access to proprietary NVIDIA drivers for those who need them), plus updates all of the requisite tooling, toolchains, and programming packages developers need.
    • Regular readers will be abreast of all what’s new in Ubuntu 23.04, so if you’re among them feel free to skip straight to the download section to go grab an .iso for yourself!
    • Ubuntu 23.04 includes a new installer. It’s made using Flutter, and leverages Subiquity, Canonical’s CLI installer for Ubuntu Server, and Curtin technologies. This version does (almost) everything the old one did but with a more modern flair, an improved partition manager, and a fab looking new slideshow during install.
    • As mentioned, GNOME 44 provides the bulk of user-facing changes in Ubuntu 23.04. The most visible of these are present in the pill-based Quick Settings menu.
    • Lots more changes in the lots more flavours, now including Cinnamon and Edubuntu.
  • blendOS 2 Is Already Here and Supports Android Apps Out of the Box
    • from 9to5Linux
    • Rudra Saraswat announced the release and general availability of blendOS 2 “Avial,” the second major release of this unique, immutable GNU/Linux distribution that we introduced you to earlier this year.
    • When 9to5Linux first looked at blendOS, the distro promised a blend of Arch Linux, Fedora Linux, and Ubuntu, but now blendOS 2 is already here and it promises more than that, such as out-of-the-box support for Android apps.
    • The Android app support implementation inside blendOS 2 is possible thanks to the WayDroid project, an open-source container-based solution for running the full Android operating system inside your Linux box.
    • Android apps can be easily installed from graphical app stores like the Aurora Store or F-Droid. blendOS 2 lets you use these Android apps alongside native Linux apps.
    • “This is also useful for Android developers, as they can test their apps through WayDroid in Android Studio, just like regular Linux apps without the need for a heavy Android emulator,” said Rudra Saraswat.
    • In addition to supporting Android apps, blendOS 2 lets you install and use Web Apps/PWAs, as well as apps from Arch Linux‘s software repository and the Chaotic-AUR repository, an automated building repo for AUR (Arch User Repository) packages.
    • With this major release, the devs also went a step ahead of the competition and developed their own “distrobox” implementation using the Podman tool for managing OCI containers and pods, which allows them to implement new and unique features that you’ll find in blendOS 2.
    • The blending of distributions offered by blendOS has been improved as well by automatically adding containerized software in the base system. Moreover, there’s now a new priority-based system that puts users in control of which containerized software should be prioritized over the others and avoid any conflicts.
    • Among other noteworthy changes, blendOS 2 comes with two official flavors featuring the GNOME and KDE Plasma desktop environments, the official NVIDIA graphics drivers installed by default, support for both BIOS and UEFI (32-bit and 64-bit) systems, a new installer framework, and support for creating blendOS remixes.
    • If you want to give blendOS 2 a try on your personal computer, you can download the live ISO images with either GNOME or KDE Plasma desktops right now from the official website.
  • Vivaldi 6.0: Organize Tabs and More
    • from Vivaldi blog
    • Vivaldi’s new features – Custom Icons and Workspaces – could change the way you experience Vivaldi on your desktop. With the release of 6.0, the powerful and personal browser goes even further.
    • The all-new Custom Icons in Themes allow you to radically alter the look of the browser and personalize the interface like never before.
    • Workspaces take the unique tab management functionality even higher. It lets you organize your tabs by category into separate workspaces and switch easily between them. The ability to use Tab Stacks (groups) and split-screen view within Workspaces makes working with tabs way more fun and focused.
    • Providing a browser with ultimate freedom and flexibility is at the heart of what Vivaldi does. Workspaces and the next-level user interface customization will give people a browser experience that is special and truly unique.
    • Vivaldi has everything you need to create an online haven, your dream home on the internet.
  • New Opera One Browser
    • from their Website, Engadget, itsFOSS (amongst other places)
    • Opera has released the early access version of its completely redesigned browser that it plans to launch for all platforms later this year. It’s called Opera One, and it was designed to have a cleaner look with plenty of open space for future generative AI features and extensions in its sidebar and address bar. Opera says it has implemented a new multithreaded compositor and its new modular design principles for the browser to enable a fresh batch of features that include what it calls “tab islands.” (automatically and intuitively group websites people open based on their content.) It will open all pages with menus and restaurant details in one island, for instance, and all tabs with Google Docs in another. The idea is to reduce confusion and make it easier to jump between tasks, whether for work or for something personal.
    • Opera considers tab islands as the first manifestation if its modular design strategy with their clearly distinguishable island borders and color markets, so we could probably expect more similarly designed features. 
    • In addition to tab islands, Opera One comes with ChatGPT, ChatSonic and AI Prompts enabled by default.
    • Available for Windows, Mac, Linux
  • GTK3 port of GIMP is “officially finished”
    • from Phoronix
    • The long-awaited port of the GIMP image manipulation program to the GTK3 toolkit is now declared “officially finished”.
    • After many years in the works, GIMP developer ZeMarmot tweeted out a short time ago:
      • And after another month, I merged the branch to our main development branch. The GTK+3 port of GIMP is officially finished (apart from minor deprecated API here and there, but no huge tasks anymore)!!!
      • I even already updated the roadmap which now says “Port to GTK3”: done.
    • The GIMP 3.0 road-map now has the GTK3 port listed as done along with porting to the Meson build system, porting away from intltool usage, and multi-layer selection. Among the items still being worked on for GIMP 3.0 are redesigning the scripts/plug-ins API, Wayland support, and space invasion.
    • Here’s to hoping it won’t be too much longer before GIMP 3.0 is finally ready to ship.
  • QEMU 8.0 Released with 32-bit support deprecated
    • from Phoronix
    • Michael Larabel wrote: QEMU 8.0 is out today as the newest feature release for this processor emulator that plays an important role in the open-source Linux virtualization stack.
    • QEMU 8.0 has debuted as stable today with a range of new features and other improvements. Some of the highlights for QEMU 8.0 include:
      • QEMU 8.0 now supports Xen guests under KVM when running on the Linux 5.12 kernel or newer.
      • System emulation on 32-bit x86 hosts has been deprecated. The 32-bit x86 host support for system emulation is deemed no longer effective.
      • Due to Intel HAXM being retired, the “-accel hax” option has been deprecated.
      • New ARM emulated CPU types of Cortex-A55 and Cortex-R52.
      • QEMU 8.0 on RISC-V supports a number of new extensions like smstateen, Zawrs, the T-Head vendor extensions, Svadu, Zicond, and Zicbiom, ZCicboz, and Zicbop. QEMU 8.0 is also now capable of supporting ACPI on RISC-V.
      • QEMU 8.0 adds a new CPU model for Intel Sapphire Rapids.
      • A new “ide-cf” option for emulating a CompactFlash card block device.
      • Support for the F13 and F14 keys have been added for input handling.
      • Experimental VFIO migration support for the v2 VFIO migration protocol while removing v1 protocol support.
    • It’s been many years since 32-bit x86 servers were of much use… QEMU 8.0 finally deprecates 32-bit x86 host support.
    • QEMU 8.0.0 can be downloaded at QEMU.org. More details as to the many QEMU 8.0 changes can be found on the QEMU Wiki.
  • Ryzen 7000 processors are burning up (Bill)
    • from howtogeek
    • AMD just released a new range of Ryzen 7000 processors earlier this year with 3D V-Cache, providing even more performance. However, the new CPUs aren’t just faster: they’re also burning up.
      • Update, 4/25/23: AMD told The Register in a statement that the company is aware of a “limited number of reports online claiming that excess voltage while overclocking may have damaged the motherboard socket and pin pads.” AMD says it is working with motherboard manufacturers to ensure voltages are correct.
    • Some people are reporting their PCs with Ryzen 7000 3D processors suddenly not booting up, with no issues arising previously. Upon further inspection, the underside of the Ryzen chip inside of the PC has physically bulged and burned out, with the motherboard pins burned in the same spot. Both the CPU and the motherboard are seeing irreparable damage as a result of this issue, and it can be tricky to RMA the affected parts, since a motherboard maker could, for one, argue that the issue was caused by the CPU, or vice versa.
    • While AMD is yet to speak out on the issue, MSI issued a statement saying that the issue could be caused by “abnormal voltage issues.” The motherboard maker has introduced a BIOS update that heavily restricts voltage settings by only letting you reduce the voltage, and we heavily recommend you download it if you happen to have an MSI motherboard with one of these CPUs.
    • We should remember that AMD was initially reluctant to allow overclocking for its new CPUs with 3D V-Cache. This might be the reason why.
    • Make sure to download a BIOS update whenever it becomes available for your machine. We’ve reached out to AMD for comment on this issue, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.
  • Proton launches encrypted password manager
    • from Proton blog
    • A password manager has been one of the most common requests from the Proton community ever since we first launched Proton Mail. However, while Proton Pass uses end-to-end encryption to protect your login credentials, it will be much more than a standard-issue password manager. This will become clear over the next weeks and months as we prepare Proton Pass for a public launch later this year.
    • In 2022, Proton joined forces with SimpleLogin to bring millions of Proton users advanced Hide-my-email Aliases. Making logins more secure, more private, and easier was a core part of the original vision of SimpleLogin. In fact, Son Nguyen Kim, the founder of SimpleLogin, picked the name SimpleLogin for precisely this reason.
    • The merger united two organizations with a shared interest in tackling this problem. That’s why the SimpleLogin team, joined by a few engineers from Proton, spearheaded work on Proton Pass.
    • We’re launching Proton Pass now for two primary reasons. First, joining with SimpleLogin increased our ability to develop a new password manager without impacting efforts on other Proton services. Second, passwords are such sensitive information that an insecure password manager is a risk to the Proton community.
    • If an attacker obtains your password (be it through a data breach or hacking your password manager), they can essentially bypass all of Proton Mail’s advanced encryption. Protecting your passwords properly requires a high level of competence with encryption and security, which few organizations have. We’ve always been worried about the risk posed by a major password manager breach, which unfortunately became a reality with the recent hack of LastPass(new window).
    • Raising the bar on security
    • Proton Pass is not just another password manager. It’s perhaps the first one built by a dedicated encryption and privacy company, leading to tangible differences in security. For example, while many other password managers only encrypt the password field, Proton Pass uses end-to-end encryption on all fields (including the username, web address, and more).
    • This is important because seemingly innocuous bits of information (such as saved URLs, which many other password managers don’t encrypt) can be used to create a highly detailed profile on you. For example, if an attacker can see that you have passwords saved for an account with Grindr, gop.com, or even a manga fan site, they’ll know a lot about you as a person, even if they can’t actually access your accounts.
    • Cryptographic details matter, and Proton Pass uses a strong bcrypt password hashing implementation (weak PBKDF2 implementations have made other password managers vulnerable) and a hardened implementation of Secure Remote Password (SRP) for authentication. Proton Pass is also a password manager that includes a fully integrated two-factor authenticator (2FA) and supports 2FA autofill. This is meant to make it easier to use 2FA everywhere since it’s one of the most effective safeguards for your online accounts.
    • Like every other Proton service, Proton Pass will be open source and publicly auditable upon launch, so anyone can independently verify our security features and their implementation.
  • The World Wide Web becomes public 30 years ago today
    • From www.history.com
    • On April 30, 1993, four years after publishing a proposal for “an idea of linked information systems,” computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee released the source code for the world’s first web browser and editor. Originally called Mesh, the browser that he dubbed WorldWideWeb became the first royalty-free, easy-to-use means of browsing the emerging information network that developed into the internet as we know it today.

Berners-Lee was a fellow at CERN, the research organization headquartered in Switzerland. Other research institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University had developed complex systems for internally sharing information, and Berners-Lee sought a means of connecting CERN’s system to others. He outlined a plan for such a network in 1989 and developed it over the following years. The computer he used, a NeXT desktop, became the world’s first internet server. Berners-Lee wrote and published the first web page, a simplistic outline of the WorldWideWeb project, in 1991.

CERN began sharing access with other institutions, and soon opened it up to the general public. In releasing the source code for the project to the public domain two years later, Berners-Lee essentially opened up access to the project to anyone in the world, making it free and (relatively) easy to explore the nascent internet.

Simple Web browsers like Mosaic appeared a short time later, and before long the Web had become by far the most popular system of its kind. Within a matter of years, Berners-Lee’s invention had revolutionized information-sharing and, in doing so, had dramatically altered the way that human beings communicated. The creation and globalization of the web is widely considered one of the most transformational events in human history. 4.39 billion people, including you, are now estimated to use the internet, accounting for over half the global population. The average American now spends 24 hours a week online. The internet’s rise has been the greatest expansion in information access in human history, has led to the exponential growth in the total amount of data in the world, and has facilitated a spread of knowledge, ideas and social movements that was unthinkable as recently as the 1990s.

  • from Kristina P. at the Jetpack Blog
  • In early April, we experienced an unexpected suspension of our Twitter API access. This access is what powers Jetpack Social, which in turn helps you automatically share your blog posts to Twitter. Though the service was restored that same day, it turns out that there were bigger changes looming on the horizon. 
  • Twitter decided, on short notice, to dramatically change the terms and pricing of the Twitter API. We have attempted to work with Twitter in good faith to negotiate new terms, but we have not been able to reach an agreement. As a result, the Twitter connection on Jetpack Social will cease to work, and your blog posts will no longer be auto-shared to Twitter.
  • You will still be able to share your posts to Twitter manually by pasting the post link into the body of your tweet. 
  • In addition, you can still auto-share your posts to Tumblr, Facebook, and Linkedin. In the near future, we are adding the ability to auto-share to Instagram and Mastodon. We are continuing to release new features in Jetpack Social, so keep an eye on the Jetpack blog for more updates.  
  • We apologize for any inconvenience this causes for your website and marketing efforts. We wish the outcome had been different, but our customers are always our primary concern, and we’re not willing to compromise the experience or value you receive from Jetpack. 

— Play Security Transition Bumper —

Security and Privacy

10 minutes

  • Mullvad Subjected to Search Warrant, Nothing To Find, Cops Left
    • from Mullvad Blog
    • On April 18 at least six police officers from the National Operations Department (NOA) of the Swedish Police visited the Mullvad VPN office in Gothenburg with a search warrant.
    • They intended to seize computers with customer data.
    • In line with Mullvad’s policies, such customer data did not exist. Mullvad argued they had no reason to expect to find what they were looking for and any seizures would therefore be illegal under Swedish law. After demonstrating that this is indeed how the service works and them consulting the prosecutor they left without taking anything and without any customer information.
    • If they had taken something that would not have given them access to any customer information.
    • Mullvad have been operating our VPN service for over 14 years. This is the first time their offices have been visited with a search warrant.
  • RTM Locker’s First Linux Ransomware Strain Targeting NAS and ESXi Hosts
    • from The Hacker News
    • The threat actors behind RTM Locker have developed a ransomware strain that’s capable of targeting Linux machines, marking the group’s first foray into the open source operating system.
    • “Its locker ransomware infects Linux, NAS, and ESXi hosts and appears to be inspired by Babuk ransomware’s leaked source code,” Uptycs said in a new report published Wednesday. “It uses a combination of ECDH on Curve25519 (asymmetric encryption) and Chacha20 (symmetric encryption) to encrypt files.”
    • RTM Locker was first documented by Trellix earlier this month, describing the adversary as a private ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) provider. It has its roots in a cybercrime group called Read The Manual (RTM) that’s known to be active since at least 2015.
    • The group is notable for deliberately avoiding high-profile targets such as critical infrastructure, law enforcement, and hospitals so as to draw as little attention as possible. It also leverages affiliates to ransom victims, in addition to leaking stolen data should they refuse to pay up.
    • The Linux flavor is specifically geared to single out ESXi hosts by terminating all virtual machines running on a compromised host prior to commencing the encryption process. The exact initial infector employed to deliver the ransomware is currently unknown.
    • “It is statically compiled and stripped, making reverse engineering more difficult and allowing the binary to run on more systems,” Uptycs explained. “The encryption function also uses pthreads (aka POSIX threads) to speed up execution.”
    • Following successful encryption, victims are urged to contact the support team within 48 hours via Tox or risk getting their data published. Decrypting a file locked with RTM Locker requires the public key appended to the end of the encrypted file and the attacker’s private key.
    • The development comes as Microsoft revealed that vulnerable PaperCut servers are being actively targeted by threat actors to deploy Cl0p and LockBit ransomware.

— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —

Bi-Weekly Wanderings

30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)

  • Joe
  • It has been a fun couple of weeks. I got some 3D printing and design done. But first I had some fun with my printer. It was starting to under-extrude but I kinda ignored it. And that made it difficult to get the bed ‘level’ and for layers to stick to each other. Eventually I got tired of it and took it apart and saw a whole bunch of material had squeezed out the top of the block. It was not that difficult to clean up and I changed the nozzle for another 0.6mm, leveled the bed and got right back to printing
  • I designed a couple of simple objects for my chair in the garage. I made a couple of adapters for the table holder on the arm of the chair. The original hole was not the correct size to hold the articulated arm for my keyboard. I also redesigned my cup holder adapter so that it takes the place of the original. This will make future modifications a little bit simpler since I also designed another of the table holders to hold a ¼” bolt for mounting many other peripherals that I use.
  • I also 3D-printed some skull hair pins for some members of my family and decided that I like them for my beard but needed to slightly redesign so that they were a bit smaller and easier to use on a beard. So I have printed a few of the original and am looking at sizes for the beard one. I have the modded one that I redesigned and I think that it looks pretty good. I also got a multicolor and printed one for jackie and she seems to like it well enough.
  • I also got a care package from Moss. There were several cool items in there including a first gen echo device, one of the full size ones. Moss was having issues getting it to connect to his wifi. It took a little bit more manual work but I was able to get it up and running and now it is set up in my kitchen for music listening while cooking.
  • There was also one of the trackball mice that Moss and I like. One of the m570s from logitech. Moss was having stability issues with the device and I am testing to see if I can reproduce the issue
  • He also sent me one of his XLR to usb systems. The one he was using the other week when it was disconnecting and reconnecting. I was not able to reproduce this problem but it did give me the chance to test out some very old microphones that I have had sitting around for a very long time. The MC300 has some connector issues and I would like a different cable and mic to test with but I was not able to get another xlr. I cannot find any major issues so I will be sending it back. I know that he is using the xlr cable on the new device and I need to check if he was using a different usb cable but the ones that he sent I have wiggled and jarred and I cannot get it to the same as when it happened to him.
  • I have also been back on the campaign trail. But not for myself this time. I have been helping another individual with his campaign for school board here in allen. I worked at the polls all day yesterday other than two hours at the gym. I had a lot of fun shaking hands and talking to people without the pressure of being the one that is running. I will also be helping out next weekend on Saturday so I will miss the off week show. But that will be the last one for the year.
  • I have been offered a lateral transfer at work. Well at first I would not be a team lead. I would be training and then I would eventually build a new team if things went well at this location. But there is a lot of chances for things to go wrong that way but I am pretty sure that I would get the chance to go through HR process again and get a reasonable raise. I do enjoy the things that I am doing now but I would also like to grow a bit. Things are changing in my current role and there are things to learn. I also need a raise so it nmight be worth it. There is always a chance when you start a position like this that you will get stonewalled by the teams at other locations and not get the training that you need because they are worried about losing their jobs. Honestly I have seen that happen so it is a valid fear. Mostly unless they are planning on closing out entirely at a location they will try to find you another job before letting you go but it is a rough time in the market.
  • Moss
    • I got my i5 M700 Tiny up and running just fine. I also got a new (or repackaged?) EBXYA box, and although it works, it was missing a knob and has a short in the headphone jack. If you know how to solder and troubleshoot (I don’t), this is a pretty good box with a great price … and low quality control.
    • I sent my old 1st Gen Amazon Echo to Joe to play with, as well as an M570 trackball which has gotten flaky and my EBXYA sound box for troubleshooting and fixing. The sound box is the only thing he has to return. I might need to send him the new sound box, the headphone jack is not working great but I can just plug my headphones into the computer. When he gets the EBXYA box back to me, I might send him the new one to check that headphone jack.
    • I’m still cranking out Full Circle Weekly News each week, and we just got Distrohoppers’ Digest recorded, with a new host, on Tuesday.
    • I’m starting to get my practice licks in for my next concert, 2nd weekend of June, actual time and date yet to be determined. I tried to apply to perform at another convention at the end of May, but was probably a month or three too late.
  • Bill
    • Well these last two weeks have seen me out to Pennsylvania and back twice, to Missouri and back twice, and to Mississippi and back three times. I’ve only got a couple of tech things to talk about. Nearly a month ago during the recording of Linux OTC, Leo turned me onto a project called QuickEMU; a solution for quickly spinning up virtual machines, leveraging QEMU and KVM technologies. I had heard of the project before on other podcasts as it’s a work by the prolific Martin Wimpress, among others. What QuickEMU does is take the guess work, and ISO hunting out of installing and maintaining virtual machines. With essentially two commands you can have a virtual machine of any making and origin spun up and running. I was interested in the project mostly because I’ve been largely unsuccessful when trying to spin up VMs from architectures other than x86, such as ARM for example. What I needed was a straight forward method of getting a Mac OS VM up and running. QuickEMU served that purpose to a brilliant standard. So basically – One command retrieves the necessary ISO, creates the VM, and creates the virtual filesystem as well as the necessary configs. The second command actually spins up the machine. In the case of the Mac OS VM, you have a some additional steps to perform after the machine is up and running in order to get a usable desktop up and running. The Github page for the project outlines clearly the steps necessary to get each type of machine up and running as well as caveat the possible pitfalls you may run into. I found the instructions intuitive, and useful. In less than a half an hour, I had a Mac OS desktop up and running, signed into my Apple id, and installing software as though I was using a Mac machine. Kudos to the QuickEMU project.
    • One of the necessary pieces of software used to make all of the shows I’m a part of is OBS Studio, which as many would be aware is one of those darling Opensource projects that provides the necessary tools to create video production for digital content creators. While I’ve been using OBS for some time for the production of all the shows I’m a part of, I’ve only recently decided to make use of the ability of the software to take advantage of hardware acceleration. For those who, like me have AMD graphics, you basically have one straight forward option – VAAPI which basically takes advantage of an FFMPEG API to provide general purpose hardware acceleration. Until now, my production machine consisted of two video cards, one being the integrated Radeon Graphics (SOC) that came with the machine and an additional AMD R5 430 2GB GDDR5 card I purchased on eBay to give me multi-monitor capability. While this solution worked, it has always felt a bit sloppy, given two of the monitors are connected to the discrete card, and one to the SOC. I never really felt like the performance was quite good enough, so off to Amazon I went.
    • While searching for a single card solution for my graphics challenge, I basically landed on two possible solutions. I narrowed my choices down to either the AMD FirePro W5100 4GB, or the Nvidia Quadro M2000 4GB. The thing that attracted me to the Nvidia solution was the option to make use of the NVENC technology bespoke to Nvidia hardware. Although this is a great option, it is in fact proprietary in terms of it’s code-base and therefore evil. None of that diminished my curiosity though. I couldn’t decide what would be the most performant option given the benchmarks for both devices ware very similar, so I purchased both.
    • Although the cards came from different locations, they arrived at my house the same day, so I was able to take a little time testing both cards. Currently, I’m using the Nvidia card, but that’s mostly because it was the second of the two cards I tried. I have to say over all I’m happy with the performance of both cards. The Nvidia card did have the additional step of enabling the binary firmware in the hardware manager, but that really wasn’t a big deal. I only record and stream in 1080p so the performance was very similar between the two cards. The goal here was to offload graphics processing while providing a solution where all three monitors are connected to the same GPU. Both cards are fit for purpose. I will continue to tinker and test, so there may be more to come. I am curious as to whether or not there is any advantage to Nvidia’s proprietary encoding over the Open source VAAPI option. So that will be the thing I will focus on. If I find there is no real benefit, my permanent choice may come down to a decision of ethics. One thing of note is that installation of the Nvidia card was not terrible, but not great. When I first installed the new card and sub-sequentially started the machine, it booted and rendered the desktop just fine, but that is because it was using the Nouveau open-source driver by default. Which is fine, but I want to get the most I can out this card in terms of performance. Opening the “Driver Manager” on Linux Mint 21.1 offers the option to stay on the open-source driver or switch to the proprietary Nvidia binary driver. I was presented with six options for this driver ranging in version numbers 390 to 530; 530 being the “recommended” option – so I chose that one. After installing the necessary packages, it prompted for a reboot, which I did – now the anguish. I thought everything would be fine because I was presented with the Linux Mint GRUB splash screen, but upon exiting from that screen, I wasn’t presented with a login screen or a desktop – I had nothing. I thought to myself “ok that’s it – it’s back to AMD” but after unplugging one of the monitors and plugging it into the HDMI that runs into the SOC video card I had a working desktop. I then went back to the Driver Manager and switched to the Nvidia driver one version down from the newest, rebooted and now it worked. After looking closer at the list of Nvidia binary drivers, I noticed all but the newest version was built for Ubuntu 22.04.1, the newest being built against Ubuntu 22.04.2. I assume what may be the case is that Mint 21.1 is based on Ubuntu 22.04.1. I imagine some googling would go a long way to answer the question, but I was just glad to get it working. Again – if there’s no noticeable difference in performance, I may likely go with the AMD card long term as it relieves the problem of dependence on drivers that may or may not work with your kernel version. At present however I am enjoying a world of performance improvements over the cheap two port card I had running before.
    • As an ammendment – I have decided to go with the AMD card because the Nvidia card gave me a series of nightmares above and beyond what I described above.
  • Majid
    • I thought a few months ago that I didn’t need a desktop computer. I rarely used it, and my son kept nicking the monitor to use with his PS4. It was still running Windows and (because I rarely used it) hadn’t bothered putting Linux on it. Hence I thought that I can do all my computing on the myriad of laptops and tablets I own. But now that I’m (allegedly) a proper podcaster, and due to audio issues in the last episode, I realised that I was being a bit premature with that! I decided I need to have a podcasting rig. It sees that a lot of enterprise-style hardware is going out of support, and so there were quite a few different computers I was finding available on eBay. I ended up get an HP Prodesk mini PC for around £250 ($315). It was a reasonably beefy box (for me anyway). 8th gen i7 16GB RAM, 512 GB SSD. Came with Windows 10, but of course I wanted to use Linux. Since this is mintCast, and it being a while since I used Mint, I thought that’s the way to go. After burning an ISO of 21.1 Cinnamon Edition, I booted into the live environment. I got to be honest, its seemed a bit plain for me. Maybe because I had moved over to KDE on my other boxes, But I thought I’d persevere. Went through the usual install process. Really quick, maybe only 15 min (just like Mint has been). Then went to boot, and nothing, just got to a grub menu. Now at this point I should have tried again. But then I thought, maybe this is a sign to go back to KDE. So tried that. I think the actual issue was the kernel. Mint 21.1 is on 5.15. Whilst my Kubuntu 23.04 is on 6.2. Not sure why that would matter on a machine that’s about 4 years old, but that was my only assumption. Either that or I messed up on doing the install. In fact, let’s be honest, its probably the latter.
    • Anyhoo, so got Kubuntu on here, and did my first livestream last week from the box. It detected all of my hardware and recent keyboard/mouse/headphone purchases.
    • Whilst using KDE (now having it on both my desktop and my Asus laptop) I had some “lightbulb” moments. I realised that GNOME only really makes sense on a laptop. Touchpad gestures, swipes, touchscreen support, only really makes sense on GNOME on a laptop/tablet. On a desktop its lacking. Maybe this is why people were so against GNOME 3 when it first launched (among other reasons I’m sure). KDE, whilst “okay” on a laptop, really comes into its own on a desktop. Its crazy how configurable it is. I’m really enjoying it.
    • On a side note, the power outlet I’m using for this also has an Apple charger plugged in from the Macbook I recently bought. I am using the charger to power my (as yet dormant) Raspberry Pi. For some reason, whenever its plugged in, the power outlet doesn’t work, and I my other devices on the same plug or extension (like my printer, monitor etc) don’t work. I take it out, it does. More annoyances from the fruit based company.
    • I saw some of the Youtube videos by LinusTechtips and Chris Titus Tech on the subject of Atlas OS. Seems like a way to pwned or hacked. I’ll stay with Linux thanks!
    • Outside of computing, it was the Muslim festival of Eid, so lots and lots of food was had, met some friends, family time.
    • At work, used some of the SIMman equipment. Was pretty cool simulating clinical scenarios!
    • And, I got a letter from HMRC that the dormant Limited Company I have owes some tax…I’m not sure how, gonna have to delve into it.
  • Dale
  • The past 4 weeks I drove from Ohio to California, California to Oklahoma back to California, from there I went to Tennessee. In Tennessee I had two deliveries with one in Kentucky. I went back to Tennessee and that delivered to Arizona. From Arizona back to Tennessee. Finally I drove from Tennessee to Ohio.
  • I participated in Linux Saloon’s 1 week distro exploration, which was Archcraft, a Arch-based distro using the Openbox Window manager. It was a nice minimalist distro and I enjoyed using it. I used Openbox when I first got into Linux in the mid 90s. With that renewed interest I decided to install Debian Stable on my Dell Inspiron 13 and installed Openbox. When you install window managers from the repositories, they are usually minimally configured or a generic configuration.
    I used Git to download and then compiled Picom, a fork of the Compton compositor, since Debian had an older version. After using it for a few weeks I decided to use it on my desktop.
    I was just about decided on Debian until a friend told me he switched to Void Linux. I reviewed it for Distrohoppers’ Digest a few years ago. It has been one of my favorite distros I have reviewed. So in preparation for when I arrive home, I watched many YouTube videos of configuring Picom, Polybar, and Void.
  • They do have a mostly ready to use Xfce ISO. It requires some package installation decisions before you have a 100% usable installation.
    Instead, I used the base ISO of Void which only installs the minimum to boot the OS. A fresh install boots a text based terminal login prompt. From there you install the distro package by package. This level of detail is not for everyone. I personally enjoy creating my own desktop experience piece by piece. When something doesn’t work, you know you missed a package or setting.
  • My other activities include ordering a 4 port Intel Gigabit Ethernet card from eBay. I am going to use that in my future pfSense build using my ASRock J3455B-ITX motherboard/cpu combo.
  • I needed some more network ports on the other side of my office, so I drove up to Microcenter to buy a Ubiquiti Unifi Lite 8 PoE switch, model USW-Lite-8-PoE. It is a Gigabit layer 2 PoE (Power Over Ethernet) switch, with 4 802.3at PoE+ ports and 4 non-powered ports. I will use the USW Flex Mini 5 Port Gigabit switch I out grew out of on my main computer desk.

— Play Innards Transition Bumper —

Linux Innards

30 minutes (~5-8 minutes each)

  • The Origins of the Graphical User Interface with Dale Miracle
  • When would you guess the idea of interacting with a computer using a pointing device was first used?
  • 1955 at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) created the light pen.
  • A clever design. The CRT’s pixels are a grid known to the computer and the pens sensor could detect changes in light between pixels on the grid. The computer knows the grid arrangement and the refresh rate of the CRT. The light pen sends a millisecond signals to computer when it sees the pixel light up and the computer know what is located at that area of the grid.
  • First wide adoption was on SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment), an early radar system that MIT and IBM built for the US Military.
  • The computer was called AN/FSQ7 so even back then companies created terrible model names for computers.
  • First computer to use magnetic core memory.
  • Weighed 250 tons and contained 49,000 electron tubes.
  • Used 16” CRT radar displays to aid in the navigating and tracking of aircraft.
  • Terminology and technology differences between 1950 and 2023.
  • CPU and memory was in one of many cabinets that would fill one floor of a building.
  • Additional cabinets were used for storage.
  • The size of washing machines or refrigerators.
  • A graphics terminal would include a CRT monitor, light pen, and a keyboard.
  • What they consider graphics, we would consider text mode.
  • Graphics terminals were called Graphics Display Units (GDU).
  • GDU depended on the CPU to do all the processing work.
  • Later referred to as Dumb Terminals
  • A complete computer was comprised of several CPU, storage cabinets, and many GDU’s
  • Keep in mind is only the Government, research facilities, and Universities had access to these computers.
  • The 60s saw businesses begin to use computers, initially the banks and other financial institutions.
    — Discussion —
  • Even though the light pen was a big success, the killer app so to speak for it was Sketchpad
  • The Sketchpad was created by Ivan Sutherland in 1963.
  • Considered to be the ancestor of both Computer Aided Design (CAD) and a major breakthrough in computer graphics.
  • First program to use a complete graphical user interface.
  • Used the Lincoln TX-2 an advanced transistor-based computer built in 1958 by MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory.
  • Users would draw on the screen using a light pen.
  • Used geometric constraints which was a major invention.
  • Allowed for precise drawing as apposed to free hand drawing.
  • Would correct crooked lines to an exact length. Angles could be maintained while the drawing is modified.
  • RAND Tablet, developed by the Rand Corporation in 1964
  • An input device that used a stylus attached to a 10″ by 10″ (254 mm by 254 mm) printed-circuit screen using capacitive sensors.
  • Looked and functions similar to today’s drawing tablets, like Wacom.
  • Had 100 lines per inch (25.4 mm) resolution, capable of digitizing 1 million points.
  • Used handwriting recognition program called GRAIL (Graphical Input Language).
  • GRAIL could identify 53 hand drawn numbers, letters, symbols and geometric shapes.
  • Able to use gestures to manipulate items on the screen.
  • Inspired creation of devices like Wacom tablets, Apple’s Newton, and Palm Pilot by Palm Inc.

— Discussion —

  • Douglas Engelbart engineer and inventor.
  • Joined Stanford Research Institute (now know as SRI International) in 1957.
  • Form the Augmentation Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute.
  • Created the idea of hypertext.
  • Foundation of how point and click functions.
  • An icon is a link that refers to another object.
  • Members of Augmentation Research Center invented the mouse.
  • First prototype in 1964
  • First public demonstration in 1968.
  • Patent filed on 1967 and granted in 1970.
  • Trackball predated mouse.
  • Two inventions from two people in separate countries a few years apart.
  • English engineer Ralph Benjamin 1946 patent filled and granted 1947 called Roller Ball.
  • British electrical engineer Kenyon Taylor and team at the Royal Canadian Navy’s Digital Automated Tracking and Resolving project (DATAR) created their trackball in 1952.
  • Douglas’s and team started Augmentation of Human Intellect project.
  • Douglas was inspired by Vannevar Bush who wrote an essay “As We May Think” in 1945.
  • Vannevar an early engineer, inventor and science administrator for US Government.
  • He described a electromechanical device called Memex which would use what is now known as microfilm.
  • Would conceivably archive printed materials and photos on microfilm then allow easy retrieval of the microfilm strips.
  • Douglas and team created the oN-Line System (NLS) software around 1965.
  • Created a chorded keyboard aka keyset.
  • Looked like a 5 key piano
  • Each key corresponds to a function in NLS and the keys could be pressed separately or combined as if you are playing a chord on a piano.
  • The idea is to use the mouse in your right hand and the keyset in your left. The keyboard was only meant for typing documents though there were specials keys on the keyboard for command entry.
  • Here are a few innovations from NLS.
  • Document creation/removal and editing.
  • Select text and link to other portions of the document or another document (a form of hypertext linking).
  • Edit a document with multiple people remotely. Makes it the first groupware application. (Think of it as a Wiki.)
  • Ability to move and resize multiple windows.
  • First time a mouse was used with a graphical terminal.
  • Used a Scientific Data Systems (SDS) 940.
  • First computer to use Timesharing. Which meant multiple terminals could be used concurrently. Before Timesharing, the terminals took turns at communicating with the CPU.
  • Still used multiple cabinets for CPU and storage but the size of a complete computer was now the size of a city bus.
  • Douglas and team had public demonstration on the 9th of December, 1968
  • Historically referred to as the Mother of All Demos.
  • Was held at the Association for Computing Machinery / Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (ACM/IEEE)—Computer Society’s Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, California .
  • Douglas’s terminal was connected via a home built 1200 baud modem back to their lab in Menlo Park.
  • NASA loaned two microwave transmitters, cameras, and video switcher.

— Discussion —

— Play Vibrations Transition Bumper —

Vibrations from the Ether

20 minutes (~5 minutes each)

— Play Check This Transition Bumper —

Check This Out

10 minutes

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