Episode 421 Show Notes

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Welcome to mintCast

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

This is Episode 421!

This is Episode 421.5!

Recorded on Sunday, September 17, 2023

3d printing again im Joe; finally waking up, I’m Moss; fighting city hall I’m Bill; don’t know if I’m coming or going I’m Majid; … Eric; …Dale

— Play Standard Intro —

  • First up in the news: LMDE 6 “Faye” BETA Released, Fedora and Asahi Linux revamp installation process, Plasma 6 release date is set, IBM raises cloud prices, Manjaro 23 released, Mozilla rushes out patches, and ZFS returns to Ubuntu;
  • In security and privacy, a huge security breach affects all browsers, and Google does user tracking;
  • Then in our Wanderings, Majid has been a busy bunny, Joe is having troubles with 3D, Moss has phone trouble, Dale …, Bill gears up for public education, and Eric hates computers.
  • In our Innards section, Dale will take us back to the desktop;
  • And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions

— Play News Transition Bumper —

The News

20 minutes

  • LMDE 6 “Faye” – BETA Released
    • From the Linux Mint blog (via londoner)
    • On Wednesday (Sep 13) Clem released the Beta version of “LMDE 6 Faye”. Note this is only available with Cinnamon: there is no MATE version.
    • LMDE 6 is based on Debian 12 “Bookworm”
    • There is also an EDGE version of 21.2 Cinnamon currently in QA testing.
  • Fedora and Asahi Linux revamp installation process -Majid
    • From The Register (via londoner)
    • The forthcoming Asahi/Fedora distro for Arm64 Macs will use the Calamares installer – but the mainstream Fedora 39 might get a new, simpler installation program too.
    • According to a Mastodon post from one of the project leads, Hector Martin, the Asahi project’s upcoming Fedora-based release for Apple Silicon Macs will use the Calamares cross-platform installer.
    • The Mastodon post states “We’re switching to Calamares on Fedora KDE, just like the Arch images – except now it’s 100% Wayland, no Xorg or setxkbmap in sight, thanks to some Calamares patches [github.com] I wrote and upstreamed.
    • This means we now have zero usage of the native Xorg server on Fedora Asahi KDE images!
    • This brings back automatic keyboard layout selection on laptops, so you shouldn’t need to mess with basic keyboard settings (at least for layouts where we got the choice right, please let us know if there is a better option for your regional layout!).
    • Also this was my first Fedora package, woohoo.” (end quote)
    • Last month, the Asahi project announced it was switching to Fedora for the first native Arm64 distro for M1 and M2 Mac hardware. The flagship desktop is going to be KDE Plasma, which is a departure from Fedora’s default GNOME. Now it looks like the installer will be different too.
    • There is a similar post at 9to5Linux and a video by The Linux Experiment
  • Plasma 6 will be released in February 2024 – Majid
    • From pointiestick.com
    • First, what you’ve all been waiting for: a release date! We’ve decided that Plasma 6 will be released in early February of 2024. We don’t have a specific day targeted yet, but it’ll be in that timeframe. I’m feeling quite confident that the release will be in excellent shape by then! It’s already in good shape right now. 5 months should provide enough of a runway for a solid final release.
  • Price shock: IBM to increase cloud costs by up to 26% in 2024
    • from CIO
    • The new price rise, which will be effective from January 2024, will affect IaaS and PaaS services, the company said.
    • IBM is all set to increase its cloud services costs by up to 26% from January 2024. The new price rise will affect infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings, the company said in a GitHub post. International customers will witness a steeper price hike compared to their US peers.
    • IBM PaaS services — slated for a 3% price hike globally — include IBM’s Kubernetes Services, RedHat OpenShift, all security services, and all cloud database offerings including Message Hub, Cloudant, and SQL query services.
    • On the IaaS offerings front, the price hikes will be applied to bare metal servers, virtual server instances, file and block storage, and networking infrastructure for both classic and virtual private cloud (VPC) offerings, the company said.
    • However, with the exception of Cloud Object Storage costs, the prices for IaaS offerings will increase only for international data centers while they remain constant for US customers.
    • While the costs at Amsterdam, Montreal, and Toronto data centers will increase by nearly 3%, London data center costs will go up by 5.6%, the company said, adding that costs at Frankfurt, Milan, and Paris data centers will increase by 5.5%.
    • Data centers in Sao Paulo, Brazil will be the most impacted with an effective price change of 7.5%, followed by IBM data centers in Osaka, Singapore, and Tokyo, which will get a price hike of 6.2%.
    • There will be no price increase at Chennai, Sydney, Dallas, Washington, and San Jose data centers, the company said. IBM already charges a 20% premium over US base prices for customers using its data centers in Chennai and Sydney.
    • IBM’s Cloud Object Storage service will get dearer by 25% globally for Accelerated Archive storage, and 26% globally for Deep Archive storage, the company said, adding that there will be no changes to the existing pricing for Power Systems Virtual Server, third-party software, or network bandwidth.
    • The last few months have also seen technology vendors such as Microsoft and Salesforce hiking prices for their products and services in order to combat inflation and the rising cost of hiring staff.
  • Manjaro 23.0 Uranos released
    • from Manjaro forum
    • Since we released Talos in April 2023 we worked hard to get the next release of Manjaro out there. We call it Uranos.
    • The GNOME edition has received several updates to Gnome 44 series. This includes a lot of fixes and polish when Gnome 44 53 originally was released in March 2023. You can find the changes made to each point-release here: 44.1 9, 44.2 3, 44.3 4, 44.4 46.
    • Highlights of 44 release series are:
    • GNOME’s file chooser dialogs have only ever had a list view, which is great when you want to pick a file based on its name, but isn’t so good when picking files based on their thumbnails. Over the years, GNOME users have therefore repeatedly requested that a grid view be added to the file chooser. This has been one of the most positively received changes in our history, so we are confident that people will like it added in this release cycle!
    • GNOME’s accessibility settings have been redesigned for GNOME 44. The different sections of settings are now split up, to make them easier to navigate. The design of individual settings has also been improved, to be clearer and more consistent with the rest of settings. Additionally, many settings have had descriptions added. Mouse and Touchpad settings have been reworked for GNOME 44. The most noticeable change is the addition of videos which demonstrate the different available options. Not only do these look great, but they also make the various settings easier to understand.
    • Lastly, Software in GNOME 44 offers a smoother and faster experience. The pages for each software category are now displayed more quickly, so you can browse with less interruption. Reloading of pages has also been reduced.
    • The Plasma edition comes with the latest Plasma 5.27 LTS series 64 and KDE Gear 23.08 58. It brings exciting new improvements to your desktop.
    • This release includes a window tiling system, a more stylish app theme, cleaner and more usable tools, and widgets that give you more control over your machine. KDE’s designers have been hard at work reducing the number of pages in Plasma’s System Settings utility and moving smaller options in with other settings. Such is the case of the configuration for the animation when apps are launching, which now lives on the Cursors page. Additionally, the Highlight Changed Settings button has been moved to the hamburger menu for a cleaner look.
    • Migrating Plasma to the new Wayland display server technology has been no mean feat. But despite how hard the work has been, it is paying off, as Wayland opens many new ways to interact with your desktop. Plasma 5.27’s Wayland support is better than ever, with many bug fixes and reliability improvements throughout!
    • Dolphin 23.08 tweaks what it shows and how it shows it to give you a better idea of what you are looking at and what you can do with it. Dolphin hides temporary and backup files, uncluttering your view and stopping you from accidentally tampering with them. Other smaller details, like showing the progress of the calculation of the size of an item as it is happening, and the information of a selected file in the information panel (instead of showing the information of every file the cursor rolls over) help you get a clearer idea of what is going on in each moment.
    • We renamed Kalendar to Merkuro since the application not only lets you manage your events and tasks any more, but also your contacts. Skanpage, KDE’s scanning utility, now lets you re-order multi-page scans using drag-and-drop, and offers more adjustment options, like brightness, contrast, gamma, and color balance.
    • Itinerary is KDE’s travel assistant. Apart from reading and importing data from confirmation emails and SMS sent by airline companies, Itinerary can now import online railway tickets using the booking reference and passenger name, and grab booking details directly from the operator’s website. Note that this is currently only available for Deutsche Bahn and SNCF.
    • With our XFCE edition, we have now Xfce 4.18. Here some highlights: A new file highlighting feature (accessed from the file properties dialog) in Thunar file manager lets you set a custom colour background and a custom foreground text colour – an effective way to call attention to specific file(s) in a directory laden with similar-looking mime types. On the subject of finding files, Thunar includes recursive search.
    • The panel picks up a pair of new preferences. First, panel length is now configured in pixels rather than percentages, as before. Second, there’s a new “keep panel above windows” option. This allows maximised app windows to fill the area behind the panel rather than maximise its bottom or top edge to sit flush against it.
    • Control Centre groups all of the desktop’s various modules for managing the system into one easy-to-use window. New options are present in many of these. For example you can disable header bars in dialogs from the Appearance module; show or hide a ‘delete’ option in file context menus from Desktop; and pick a default multi-monitor behaviour before you attach an additional screen – dead handy, that.
    • Kernel 6.5 is used for this release, such as the latest drivers available to date. With 6.1 LTS and 5.15 LTS we offer additional support for older hardware as needed.
  • Mozilla patches Firefox, Thunderbird against zero-day exploited in attacks
    • Mozilla released emergency security updates today to fix a critical zero-day vulnerability exploited in the wild, impacting its Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email client.
    • Tracked as CVE-2023-4863, the security flaw is caused by a heap buffer overflow in the WebP code library (libwebp), whose impact spans from crashes to arbitrary code execution.
    • “Opening a malicious WebP image could lead to a heap buffer overflow in the content process. We are aware of this issue being exploited in other products in the wild,” Mozilla said in an advisory published on Tuesday.
    • Mozilla addressed the exploited zero-day in Firefox 117.0.1, Firefox ESR 115.2.1, Firefox ESR 102.15.1, Thunderbird 102.15.1, and Thunderbird 115.2.2.
    • Even though specific details regarding the WebP flaw’s exploitation in attacks remain undisclosed, this critical vulnerability is being abused in real-world scenarios.
    • Hence, users are strongly advised to install updated versions of Firefox and Thunderbird to safeguard their systems against potential attacks.
    • ​As Mozilla revealed in today’s security advisory, the CVE-2023-4863 zero-day also impacts other software using the vulnerable WebP code library version.
    • One of them is the Google Chrome web browser, which was patched against this flaw on Monday when Google warned that it’s “aware that an exploit for CVE-2023-4863 exists in the wild.”
    • The Chrome security updates are rolling out to users in the Stable and Extended stable channels and are expected to reach the entire user base over the coming days or weeks.
    • Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture (SEAR) team and The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School were the ones who reported the bug on September 6th.
  • Ubuntu 23.10 Restores ZFS File-System Support In Its Installer – majid
    • from Phoronix
    • When Canonical rolled out their new Flutter-based Ubuntu Linux desktop installer it lacked support for ZFS root file-system installations. Canonical has been quiet about their (Open)ZFS intentions after years of offering it as an Ubuntu install option with their prior installer, but for Ubuntu 23.10 this support is being restored.
    • After Ubuntu 23.04 shipped without a ZFS install option in their installer, I was surprised while testing Ubuntu 23.10 daily ISOs in recent days to notice the ZFS support has returned! From the advanced disk options in the Ubuntu 23.10 desktop installer, installing to ZFS has been restored.
    • his Subiquity bug report from three weeks ago by Tim Holmes-Mitra as the Director of Engineering for the Ubuntu Desktop confirms Canonical’s intentions with Ubuntu 23.10. He commented:
      • “ZFS support is being added for 23.10 (both in subiquity and the desktop installer). For 23.10 ZFS encryption is not supported.”
    • So for those wanting to run Ubuntu atop a ZFS root file-system, this easy option is indeed making its return for Ubuntu 23.10 that is due out next month and ahead of the all-important Ubuntu 24.04 LTS cycle.
    • The ZFS support for Ubuntu is still being treated as “experimental”. With the OpenZFS kernel driver remaining outside of the Linux kernel tree, you’re still at risk of breakage should you be jumping to new kernels quickly as well as taking other risks. EXT4 remains the default file-system on both the Ubuntu desktop and server spins.

— Play Security Transition Bumper —

Security and Privacy

10 minutes

  • Huge security breach affects Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Edge, and plenty more apps – Majid
    • from TechRadar
    • There’s a major security flaw concerning many of the best browsers and other apps that you must address as soon as possible to prevent hackers from attacking your device.
    • The vulnerability, which is being tracked as CVE-2023-4863, is caused by a heap buffer overflow in the WebP code library (libwebp) and can lead to your system crashing or arbitrary code execution when exploited.
    • Affected applications include Chrome, Firefox, Brave, and Edge, along with other programs like Telegram, Thunderbird, and Gimp.
    • Most Chromium-based browsers have rolled out their updates, including the four mentioned above, while others expected to be issuing patches soon. We’d advise you to keep an eye out for update notifications and to apply your browser patch(es) as soon as possible.
    • Heap buffer overflow allows an attacker to flood an area of a system’s memory with malicious activity, in turn allowing them to take control of a device, obtain data, or simply spread malware.
    • Alex Ivanovs of Stack Diary, who, alongside a in-depth technical explanation of the flaw, also noted that the vulnerability has affected more than just browsers, noticed that Apple has patched macOS Ventura to address the flaw with version 13.5.2.
    • Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture (SEAR) team and the University of Toronto Munk School’s Citizen Lab are credited with first reporting the bug on September 6th.
    • Failure to update could result in damage being done to a victim’s machine and even the loss of personal data.
  • Google gets its way, bakes a user-tracking ad platform directly into Chrome
    • from ArsTechnica
    • Don’t let Chrome’s big redesign distract you from the fact that Chrome’s invasive new ad platform, ridiculously branded the “Privacy Sandbox,” is also getting a widespread rollout in Chrome today. If you haven’t been following this, this feature will track the web pages you visit and generate a list of advertising topics that it will share with web pages whenever they ask, and it’s built directly into the Chrome browser. It’s been in the news previously as “FLoC” and then the “Topics API,” and despite widespread opposition from just about every non-advertiser in the world, Google owns Chrome and is one of the world’s biggest advertising companies, so this is being railroaded into the production builds.
    • Google seemingly knows this won’t be popular. Unlike the glitzy front-page Google blog post that the redesign got, the big ad platform launch announcement is tucked away on the privacysandbox.com page. The blog post says the ad platform is hitting “general availability” today, meaning it has rolled out to most Chrome users. This has been a long time coming, with the APIs rolling out about a month ago and a million incremental steps in the beta and dev builds, but now the deed is finally done.Users should see a pop-up when they start up Chrome soon, informing them that an “ad privacy” feature has been rolled out to them and enabled. The new pop-up has been hitting users all week. As you can see in the pop-up, all of Google’s documentation about this feature feels like it was written on opposite day, with Google calling the browser-based advertising platform “a significant step on the path towards a fundamentally more private web.”
    • The argument here is that someday—not now, but someday—Google promises to turn off third-party tracking cookies in Chrome, and the new ad platform, which has some limitations, is better than the free-for-all that is third-party cookies. The thing is, third-party cookies mostly only affect Chrome users. Apple and Firefox have both been blocking third-party cookies for years and won’t be implementing Google’s new advertising system—it’s only the Chromium browsers that still allow them.
    • That’s actually what started this whole process: Apple dealt a giant blow to Google’s core revenue stream when it blocked third-party cookies in Safari in 2020. While it was a win for privacy, Google’s not following suit until it can secure its advertising business. The Federated Learning of Cohorts and now the Topics API are part of a plan to pitch an “alternative” tracking platform, and Google argues that there has to be a tracking alternative—you can’t just not be spied on. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also argued this when it called Google’s FLoC a “terrible idea,” saying “[Google’s] framing is based on a false premise that we have to choose between ‘old tracking’ and ‘new tracking.’ It’s not either-or. Instead of re-inventing the tracking wheel, we should imagine a better world without the myriad problems of targeted ads.”
    • Chrome has some controls for this built into the browser now. Just go to the Chrome Settings, then “Privacy and Security,” then “Ad privacy” (alternatively, paste “chrome://settings/adPrivacy” into the address bar). From there, you can click through to each of the three individual pages and turn off the top checkbox, and in a mere six clicks, you can presumably turn off the ad platform. If you leave it on for a while, you can check out the “Ad topics” page, where Google will show you what ads Chrome thinks you would like to see. This list gets sent to advertisers when you visit a page.
    • Google says it will block third-party cookies in the second half of 2024—presumably after it makes sure the “Privacy Sandbox” will allow it to keep its profits up. Did any user in the world want a user-tracking and ad platform baked directly into their browser? Probably not, but this is Google, and they control Chrome, and this probably still won’t make people switch to Firefox.

— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —

Bi-Weekly Wanderings

30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)

  • Bill
    • Given it’s been some time since I’ve been on an episode, you’d think I’d have a lot to talk about; but alas no. As we get into the outset of the warmer seasons, work tends to get a little intense. One thing to note however is that my frustration with the on going problem with our local school system here in Fort Wayne with regards to transportation has finally fallen on ears that can hear. Since the beginning of the school year there’s been nearly consistent problem stemming from a lack of available drivers, as well as a perceived lack of funding. Fort Wayne is a place where the Superintendent brings in an annual salary of $237,270. For the sake of perspective – the Governor currently makes $111,688. This makes the Superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools one of the highest paid government jobs in the entire state. Nearly every day of the school year so far my middle son has had to wait up to an hour longer than normal for a bus to pick him up in the morning, and likewise to get him home. This problem is not unique to Indiana. When I started looking into this problem, I was not surprised to learn there have been schools down in Kentucky, for example where children didn’t make it home until upwards of 10:00 at night. I find this unacceptable. I’ve made my frustration clear on Facebook for sometime, normally to a less than enthusiastic response. I fear middle America does not value education as much as they should, and there seems to be a trend toward being “anti-learning.” I have a rather complicated theory for why this may be the case, but for the sake of timeliness, I’ll save that for another time. One day last week the morning bus didn’t pick up my son at all, and that’s when I took to Facebook for the one more attempt to stir up some conversation about the matter. This time I @’d the school district, as well as two of the local terrestrial tv news stations. About an hour later I got a response from 21alive news on Facebook Messenger asking if I would like to do an interview about this problem. At some point this Tuesday, or Wednesday we’re supposed to do that. I am really excited to finally put my money where my mouth is. I’ve been outspoken about the frustrations with regards to public education for some time. For example: in 2010, the school board decided to close one of the oldest and most beloved schools in town, in spite of the nearly unanimous opposition from everyone in the community. This was done in an attempt to save the district $15 million. That very same year, that very same school board approved a $26,000 per year raise for the superintendent. I’m really looking forward to my opportunity to speak to a wider audience. I really hope people start paying attention. The most frustrating part of it all is whenever I bring up the subject to my peers, all they want to talk about is the usual garbage about gender affirming stuff, critical race theory, and woke tolerance. Nobody seems to have the ability to understand that when you decide to wage war on public education, the tragedy falls solely on the shoulders of the children.
    • My frustration with Audacity continues. Last week I decided to try some other variations of the software such as the Appimage, the Snap, and even the windows version installed on Wine. For various reasons, the Windows version on Wine was the most performant, and the least clunky. Go figure huh?
  • Joe
    • Well I worked on my 3D printer a lot thanks to the cooler weather. It has been interesting to me to say the least. With the high ambiant temperature before I was having problems printing so I set it aside for a few weeks while things cooled down.
    • When I did start printing again I was still having problems with heat creep and clogging so I had to make another change but I dont have a lot of money to work with. Normally I would just buy a whole new front end which is about 30 dollars so not terrible and you get new fans and a a new thermistor and heating element as well as the extruder assembly and shroud so it is a soung buy. Its what I did last time and that worked pretty well but it is a bit of work to get the cables run through the sleeve and jooked to the board.
    • After the cooler weather came in I did the usual to make sure that things were working as they should. With all the clogging I had I grabbed some new ptfe tubing and a new nozzle and did a full replacement of those that I had sitting around. I still had a lot of problems getting things to print. Still ended up with air prints and parts that had major under extrusion. Next I checked that I was extruding the correct amount of filament per step by calibrating at 100mm. That was still within tolerance and not an issue.
    • Next I had to assume that the hot end was not being cooled enough. That would normally mean that I needed replacement fans at the very least but I did not have the extra cash for it since we had some more expenses come up. But thats ok I had extra fans. One from the last time I replaced the whole hot end and one that I had previously used in a fume extractor that I had made. I obviously went with the one from the previous hot end. But it I had also been planning on changing things up for a while so I pulled out the fang style cooler that I had printed a long time ago and had not used yet.
    • I hooked the two fans up but I noticed during the first print that the old fan was moving noticeably slower. The fang uses two 40mm fans instead of the blower so I was using the old one and the one from the current hot end. I also wanted it to be easier to make swaps of the fan in the future so I got out some barrel connectors and swapped the part cooler fan for the new fan from the fume extractor build. I was still having some print problems but now the problem was layer adhesion and wall adhesion. Crap, now the cooling is working too well on the parts. Upped the temperature lowered the speed and dropped the part cooling to 50 percent. This seems to have done the trick. Mostly. Still need to replace the other fan and add another barrel connector. Maybe switch to 4020 fans instead of 4010’s. Even if I get some loud cheap ones I can always go back later and replace them with noctua when the finances are a bit better.
    • What was I printing to test this? Toroidal fan blades mostly. They are supposed to be quieter and I wanted to make my own desk fan. I was able to go to the local resale shops and pick up some old remote control cars for a dollar each since they did not have controllers and pull them apart for the motors. I still need some usb cales with a switch or a pot in the middle to finish the build properly but I do have universal power supply that works for testing along with the barrel connectors that I have on hand. Once I had a couple of working ones I was able to set things up for testing. For some reason I could not get the fan to sit on the motor in such a way that it was balanced. This is something that I will have to work on with the tolerances because they are very close. I also want the blades to be a little bigger and I will have to design a proper enclosure eventually. Some of the problem may also be the cheap motors that I got but they were going to go to waste anyway.
    • Had to use VIM at work. I am still not a fan but when looking for one segment of one line in a file with 100k lines I think that VIM does a better job than nano. Yes both have search functions but VIM just seems more responsive.
    • I have also 3D-printed some earplugs that use headphone eartips. Very small print and I dialed the quality all the way up since it was not going to have an impact on print time. It has actually improved my sleep quality immensly. 100 percent do recommend. It does not cut out all noise but it does reduce noise to more manageable levels. I am going to start taking them with me for day to day use. They would have been very helpful at the movie theater the other day(i treated my wife)
  • Moss
    • I’ve been doing a couple teaching assignments. I had to miss one due to an ankle problem. Gotta take care of this old bag of bones. No work at all this past week.
    • I did a fresh installation of Mint 21.2 Mate on my desktop PC (M700 Tiny). I don’t know what good I expected to come of it, but perhaps some of the issues I’ve been having were from too long an upgrade cycle (haven’t done a clean install since 20.1). Took me a few hours, what with adding and subtracting software and running updates, but it’s back to normal. I even managed to remember to copy all my saved files from the previous system.
    • Dale, Eric and I got Distrohoppers’ Digest done last week. It was a lot of fun, and we are taking over this episode of mintCast.
    • I learned, while recording Distrohoppers’, that I had not set my mic mute hotkey. We were about 70% of the way through the show when I discovered this. Sorry, Tony.
    • My Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) phone got an Android 13 update, and hasn’t worked right since. My wife will not let me buy a new phone this month, so I will wait; I have largely moved my phone usage back to my Pixel 3a XL, but that means using both phones until I have all my apps replaced on the Pixel. I have my eyes on a lightly-used Pixel 6.
  • Majid
    • So I missed the last mintcast as I was busy with my daughter at the hospital. Thankfully her scans were normal. I seem to have been very busy and have a lot to say!
    • In linux news, I decided that the day before I have to give a teaching session for the junior doctors, it was a good time to nuke my Mint install on this podcasting rig and replace it. There were a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, I think it was my general boredom. I have always been a distrohopper and so after a few months on Mint 21 (which worked well), I just wanted a change. So the question is what? I still need to have realtively reliable distro, so didnt want to go too far from my Ubunut based distros. When I was on Linux OTC last week, there had been a discussion around dekstop paradigms, workflows, and UX which “forces” youto do things ina certain way (looking at you Apple). I therefore thought i’d go for Ubuntu Unity 23.04. I havent used unity for a while, and wanted to see how it was. Was a relateivly painless install, and I was able to get allmy favourite apps and services working within a short time. I liked the way it worked, was enjoying the global menu, and the HUD. Also, it absolutely flew on my hardware. I suppose the last time I had used Unity was around 2016 before the change to GNOME 3 and I now have realtively performant hardware. So the next day, I started my teaching session with it. This was when things started to fall apart. Now we use a properieatory platform for our e-learning and video conferencing. This didnt want to play well. Now at first I thought it was a linux thing, so got my work laptop. So it wasnt a linux thing, as this thing still has WIndows 11 on it (a new purchase, a Lenovo AMD Ryzen, only had it a few days and not got a chance to put a distro on it more on that later). It seems that the platformitself is frankly a bit rubbish. Every one of the presentershad difficulty. And they were using a variety of devices, from work devices, phones, iPads, Macbooks. During the days though I noticed that the Unity box kept on having network issues. Multiple errors, and crashes. Maybe if I had perserved with it, I wouldve been fine, but I found it quicker just to install Ubuntu 23.04 on it (main edition). Why this? Well as I mentioned I didnt want to stray too far off the reservation. But also I realised I’de never used GNOME on a desktop. I’d always used it on laptops or convertibles with touchscreens. I wonder what this “workflow” is like on a desktop. I got to be honest, it still works well, there is a (small) learning curve, but generally it gets out of my way and lets me do what I want. I’m going to keep it. I did come across an article saying tht GNOME can be installed on Mint, so maybe when I get the urge to distro-hop again, I might go for that.
    • So the Filen cloud service experiment is over. I know there are issues with MEGA but the jank with Filen and the integrations MEGA have made my decision. The nextcloud server is still a work in progress.
    • Theres been a bit of churn in our household when it comes to tech. I finally sold that M1 Macbook. As mentioned I just couldnt get on with MacOS, and just thought its time to close that ecosystem door. (Still havent managed to get of the ipad mini though.) It had replaced a Lenovo Miix 520 tablet that I had, and I decided it to give it to my son who started College. It’ll be his first proper computer, he’d only had a chromebook before this, and used the communal desktop. I am still impressed on how well that things runs linux and windows for 200 bucks.
    • For myself, I bought a Lenovo Yoga 6 AMD ryzen machine. Got it on a holiday deal with 0% finance. Only had it afew days, but am impressed with the battery life. It too is a convertible and comes with a stylus, was able to use that to review patient notes and sign documents. My first wifi 6 laptop. Man its fast!
    • I had an extra Pixel 7 in the house which I had got as part of contract. I tried selling this on ebay, but wasnt too successful. I was fed up of trying Facebook marketplace. I managed to sell it. But then just that same evening, my other son managed to smash his phone at the gym! Ironically he then decided to go onto a monthly contract with his network (he had been PayAsYouGo till then) and got…. a Pixel 7 2 days later! He actually really likes it and likes the camera. Espeically as he has started a clothing business on Shopify.
    • Speaking of my elder son. When he started university last year, we had got him a new laptop to replace the ageing thinkpad he had. I had managed to get a Huawei Matebook D new for about 400 bucks, which was a decent deal at the time. This is a laptop which screams “form over function”. I looks nice, but the screen hasnt got the best viewing angles, and the bottom firing speakers are a frankly a it rubbish. About 2 months after buying it, the keyboard stopped working. No idea why. We contacted Huwaei support, who were like trying to summon the Messiah. Took about 2 weeks to get hold of them. But then they did come take the deice, and replace the keyboard under warranty, Now (about 18months after our purchase) the computer decided it wouldnt boot. Kept going into the BIOS and saying that there was no boot device. So I loaded up a live USB of Ubuntu on it and figured out that the hard drived seemed to be dead. Thanksfully the ssd is upgradeable (the ram is soldered on) so I ordered another nvME SSD from amazon and fitted it in. Can I just make the point that ssds are stupidly cheap now. 512Gb for 20 quid, 2tb for 50. Anyway after that decided to install Ubuntu on it (as I dont want to spend money on windows licence). Seems the audio doesnt work. A bit of exploration on various fora showed this is a long standing issue, and there have been various fixes, none of wich worked properly. Either speaker would work, or bluetooth audio, but never the microphone which my son needs as he tutors younger kids. So with a heavy heart, I am installing windows on that machine now. Itsnot as much of a ballache as it used to be, but it isnt as painless as linux is.
    • In other purchase news, I bought some Bets Studio Buds. Neer actually bought a beats product before. They’re fine, but if it wasnt the fact that the Sony XM4s I have get uncomfortable after about an hour, I probably wouldve returned them. I’ve yet to try them in the gym.
    • Apart from mintcast, i’ve been a busy podacster. Did a session on Linux OTC which was really enjoyable and we had a good discussion. Thanks for inviting me on Bill!
    • I also recorded a new epsiode of my AA podcast. Interviewed a fellow pdocaster on whose show I did an appearence. We discussed quite a few subjects. Hopefully will be released in a few days. Speaking of the AA brand, I am adjusting the name to be more international, also changing the name of the socials to AtypicalDr, hopefully easier to find!
    • Work has been busy as usual. Did have a particularly bad shift where I was at work for 21 hours on the trot including caring after a child with a brain tumour. I’ve seen enough shit now that im innured to a lot of things. Families are still difficult to deal with. More and mores strikes happening and I have been feeling a bit despondent about them. Why? well in no particular order…
      The government arent budging. They now have a convenient scapegoat for thier failures in addressing waiting times.
      The public are losing sympathy. Surgeons (specifically) getting snide remarks from patients about cancellations.
      Different specialities in the hospital responding to the call for industrial action differently (in our trust, Anaesthesia generally pro-strike, others not so much)
      Starting to impact on peoples wallets (i’ve realised I need to do extras every month just to pay for increased mortgage costs, strikes only make that worse)
      Being on-strike and not on-strike at the same time. People doing non-clinical activity on strike days cos the work needs to get done (e.g. performance review Panels).
      More and more doctors find it ethically and morally challenging to be on strike (not me, but I’m hearing it more)
      I just feel like its a worthless exercise and we arent going to win. Do I support the reasons for striking, yes, but that neglects the fact that this tory government are a bunch incompetent feckless rich entitled b**s who couldnt give two shits if the all the doctors in the UK emigrated to other places for better pay the NHS collapses and patients suffer. After all in about a years time, itll be the problem of the next lot (Starmer et al). But I will continue to strike nonetheless, if for my own sanity if nothing else. A man needs to resist oppression when he sees it, and if this is my small way of saying “No, no more”, then thats me.
    • I was affected by the recent natural disasters in Morocco and Libya. I was staying at the epicentre of the earthquake only a few ago. And we have friends from libya. I encourage everyone to try and donate to whatever charities you can who are on the ground.
  • Eric
    • My desktop decided to give me trouble. I had been using Linux Mint and, because it was running so well, I decided to replace it with something else. You know, typical distro hopper mentality. I had been wanting to get back to using Arch something somewhere and also wanted to try RebornOS. Unfortunately, there were some stability issues where it would lock up randomly and require a reboot. As a matter of fact, this happened during the recording of the last episode of mintCast Fortunately, Audacity was able to recover the almost hour long file. I would have been pretty upset had I lost it so kudos to Audacity for having such a robust recovery feature. I then thought why not use Ubuntu since it is always the drama free distro for me. I went with 23.04 since I already had it on a USB stick but things didn’t go according to plan. 23.04 is the first release to include the new Subiquity installer. For whatever reason, it would crash after having entered all the information and clicking install. After trying several times and by then getting more than a little annoyed, I downloaded a new copy of the iso in case there had been an update as is sometimes the case. I had the same problem. Ubuntu also relased a legacy version of the 23.04 iso which includes the older Ubiquity installer. That also wouldn’t work so I gave up and went with Manjaro Cinnamon since it was already on another USB stick. It all seems to be running fine for now at least but man, was I annoyed that something that I have done literally huncreds of times before with a near 100% success rate too so long. Computers, eh?
  • Dale
    • After recording Distrohoppers’ Digest on Wednesday. Thursday morning I decided I wanted to make two new computer desks. This was something I have been wanting to do for quite some time. I bought 2 wooden benchtops that are 1 3/8th thick, 2 feet wide, and 5 feet long. I was going to use some extendable Ikea legs for the desks, though I under estimated the weight of the benchtops. I don’t know how heavy they are but they seem a little over 30 lbs. While looking at Ikea’s selection, I found they had table frames. These frames have saw horse legs with a center support beam. I was much happier with this option given the amount of support it has. Assembling the frames was very easy and the provided allen wrenches were of good quality as well as the frames themself.
      I assembled one in my living room and the other in my office. I started the process of moving everything off of my desks and removing the desks from my office. This required removing my office door from its hinges. I placed my previous primary desk in my bedroom.
      Since Thursday I have rearranged my bedroom and then moved on to my office. My main desk is usable but needs cable management. My second desk is a mess with everything piled on it. Organizing that will be for a another day.
      I wanted the wooden benchtops because I was tired of the synthetic wood used in other assembled desks and desktops for the do-it-yourself crowd. I want to be able screw in some cable management. Screwing into the synthetic wood has its issues.
    • Since I was moving everything around in my office, I decided to move my cable modem and router into my rack on the other side of my office. This required a trip to Home Depot to buy some RG6 coax. I bought it by the length which was about 55 feet. I put on the compression F-type connectors and connected them to my cable modem. There is still quite a bit of rewiring in my rack to do and some cable managerment on both desk. Though I am happy I got the ball rolling.

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Linux Innards

30 minutes (~5-8 minutes each)

  • This is my second article called Early Graphical User Interfaces
    Early Graphical User Interfaces
  • My first article was discussed in Episode 411 Episode 411 of mintCast Origins of the Graphical User Interface
  • A Chorded key set looks like a small piano and functions similarly. It has 5 keys and using the combination of which keys were pressed at the same time, would perform different functions.
    Keyboard in this era had keys for commonly used commands used today such as, copy, move, undo etc.
  • Xerox PARC creator of the GUI, Laser Printer, Bitmap graphics, and Ethernet to name a few. They were founded in 1969 as and R&D division of Xerox.
    Many of Douglas Engelbart’s team from the NLS project joined PARC.
  • The Alto was the first computer designed with a GUI. It was released on the first of March, 1973. It was not commercial available, it was only used by researchers at private companies or Universities. Many of the ideas from the NLS project were used in the Alto.
    Some call it the first personal computer though it was a small Minicomputer and not something that a person would want in their home. For comparison it was about the size of a washing machine.
    It had a TTL-based CPU at 5.88 Mhz with 128 kilobytes of memory, 2.5 MB cartridge storage (like a hard drive), 606 X 808 resolution monitor in portrait orientation, a keyboard, a 3 button mouse, chorded key set, and Ethernet.
    The OS was called Alto OS.
    Would boot to a text mode and you would type the name of the application you wanted to use. Then it would open to a full GUI application. Once done with that application, you would return to the terminal. From there you could open another application. There was no multi-tasking of applications.
    This new GUI was called WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get). There is a dispute over the first use of the name, I am using the the 1974 release of Bravo to use this new GUI.
    Applications Bravo (text editor), Gypsy (replacement for Bravo), Laurel and Hardy (Email Program), SIL (Vector graphics program), Markup (Bitmap editor), and Draw (graphical editor)
    There wasn’t any spreadsheet or database software at that time.
    1977 Xerox began developing their first commercially available GUI computer based on the Alto called the Xerox Star. The Alto II was used to design and develop the Star.
    Pilot replaced Alto OS. It is was a single-user multitasking operating system. Instead of booting to a terminal interface, you booted to a GUI where you would enter you username and password.
    This is the first use of what we would call desktop icons today. The idea behind these was based on a office metaphor. For example documents are displayed as folders.
    An example of how you move one document to another folder: click the document and press the move key on the keyboard. locate the folder you want to move to, and click it with the mouse pointer.

    This is a very important part of history that changed the direction of the GUI. It has been misunderstood ever since. All of the computing systems at that time were text-based with some graphical applications. All input was via the keyboard. The use of the mouse was still non-existent. The light pens I mentioned in the previous article were used but not as commonly. Most interaction with a computer was done via the keyboard.

Apple had a successful run of their Apple I and Apple II series of computers using a text interface. In 1978 the Apple III was the next model using the text-based interface. Apple was also developing a new computer in the same year called the Lisa. It was also originally another text-based interface, but the goal was to make it more modern. This was a year after the initial development was when Steve was shown the Alto, mentioned above. After subsequent visits with members of his design team, the decision was made to re-think the design of the Lisa.

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Vibrations from the Ether

20 minutes (~5 minutes each)

  • Henrik Hemrin
    • Hello MintCast hosts, A suggestion for any coming episode: Linux Mint is a relatively big free and open source software. It has finacial income from sponsors as well as donations. But I know very little how the development and maintenance is managed. How many are working on Linux Mint? Are some full time working with salary? How many? Or part time work for LinuxMint but still paid? Mix between paid and olonteers? Or is everyone working at their leisure time without payment? How are tasks shared between developers? I know very little about how Linux Mint works. It would be very interesting to hear some about it. If one of the developers could be a guest, so much better. Regards Henrik
  • Henrik Hemrin
    • Hello Mintcast team, Regarding mobile devices. 1) Termux. This is an app and more for Android. I have installed it on my /e/OS mobile phone; /e/OS is based on Open Android and Lineage, but I have not really used it yet. Termux is interesting and I will be happy to hear your experience, or else share to share this info. “Termux is an Android terminal emulator and Linux environment app that works directly with no rooting or setup required. A minimal base system is installed automatically – additional packages are available using the APT package manager.” https://termux.dev/en/ Beside ssh, I know it can be used for editing with Nano (incl in installation) or VIM, but also for a lot more. One application is PRoot: “The main purpose of PRoot is to run the Linux distributions inside Termux without having to root device.” When PRoot is installed, these distributions can be installed: Alpine Linux (edge) Arch Linux / Arch Linux 32 / Arch Linux ARM Debian (stable) Fedora 35 Manjaro AArch64 OpenSUSE (Tumbleweed) Ubuntu (22.04) Void Linux https://wiki.termux.com/wiki/PRoot Finally, an article about Termux: https://lwn.net/Articles/936953/ 2) Volla Phone Volla hw is manufactured in Germany by Gigaset. The hw is to my understanding identical or almost identical to Gigaset own Android phones. Volla sell their phones from their own website, installed with VollaOS, based on Android, but it can also be shipped with Ubuntu touch. VollaOS has multi boot support, so it should be easy to add Ubuntu touch and some other OS in addition to VollaOS. If you live in Denmark, it is possble to buy a Volla fron LinuxNordic with either Volla OS, Ubuntu touch, Sailfish, Droidan, Manjaro or Nemo Mobile. Droidan is based on Debian and Nemo on Manjaro. Volla does not have any 5G phone and may not be the very latest technology, but I consider they are interesting both with their own Android variant but not the least with Linux, although I have no experience. Regards Henrik Hemrin

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Check This Out

10 minutes

Housekeeping & Announcements

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