Episode 423 Show Notes

Welcome to mintCast

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

This is Episode 423!

This is Episode 423.5!

Recorded on Sunday, October 15, 2023

Joe; mostly back, I’m Moss; Here to talk a little about Linux, I’m Bill; out of the eyes of Tim Cook, I’m Majid; reconnected to the hive mind, I’m Eric

— Play Standard Intro —

  • First up in the news: Mint 21.2 Cinnamon EDGE released, new version of Raspberry Pi OS released, new Ubuntu 23.10+flvours
  • In security and privacy: Curl patches ‘worst’ security flaw in ages, Encrypted Client Hello
  • Then in our Wanderings: Joe, Moss, Bill spends more money, Majid is finally Apple-free and Eric manages to stay alive for days without a smartphone.
  • In our Innards section, we speak to Danielle Fore´ of Elementary OS
  • And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions

— Play News Transition Bumper —

The News

20 minutes

  • Mint 21.2 Cinnamon EDGE released
    • From the Linux Mint blog
    • A new “Edge” ISO image was released on October 2 for Linux Mint 21.2. It is only available with the Cinnamon desktop environment. This image is made for people whose hardware is too new to boot the 5.15 LTS kernel included in Linux Mint 21.x. It ships with kernel 6.2 instead. The same kernel is also available to existing users of 21.2 through the Update Manager. The new ISO also brings back support for Secureboot.
    • For information on EDGE ISO images visit linuxmint-user-guide,readthedocs.io/en/latest/edge.html
  • Ubuntu 23.10 Mantic Minotaur Released (along with the flavours)
    • from omgubuntu and many other areas
    • This update is a short-term release supported by 9 months of ongoing support, bug fixes, and critical app updates.
    • While it may not sound long (because it isn’t, all told) remember that Ubuntu 24.04 is out in April 2024 as a long-term support release with 5 years of support.
    • Summarising Ubuntu 23.10 in just one word is tricky, but ‘refinement’ feels an apt choice.
    • GNOME 45 brings a bevvy of buffs to the core desktop experience; improved window tiling; a sharper-looking web-browser; a pair of brand-new Flutter-based apps; and a colossal change to the amount of software preinstalled in new Ubuntu installations.
    • Foundationally, Ubuntu 23.04 runs on Linux kernel 6.5, ships Mesa 23.2 graphics drivers (with in-distro access to proprietary NVIDIA drivers for those who need them), and updates the tooling, toolchains, and programming packages devs need.
    • Ubuntu 23.10 makes a dramatic shift in the ‘Default Installation’ (the preselected one those who sail through the installer with their ‘next, next, next’ clicks will end up with). The ‘minimal install’ option Ubuntu introduced in 2018 is now the default install.
    • Paired back to just core essentials, the default Ubuntu installation only comes with basic utilities: a web browser, text editor, terminal, and a means to install additional software – which I’ll talk more about in a moment.
    • As such, software like LibreOffice, Thunderbird, Shotwell, and Rhythmbox is no longer preinstalled by default (although they still come on the ISO and live session). To install Ubuntu with these apps ready to use out-of-the-box, you MUST select the ‘Expanded Installation’ option during the installation process.
    • A pair of advanced installation choices are also present in the installer, one of which, while not entirely new, was missing from the new Flutter-based installer until now. Ubuntu on ZFS and TPM-based disk encryption are both experimental features best used by those who know what they’re doing!
    • A variety of visual improvements and usability buffs are present, courtesy of GNOME 45.
    • You’ll notice a new dynamic workspace indicator in the top-left corner, replacing the static ‘Activities’ label located there until now. This lets you know which workspace you’re on, elegantly animating as you move between them. It’s also a button; click it to enter the overview and access the workspace switcher.
    • You can also hover over the workspace indicator and scroll your mouse wheel (or swipe on a touchpad) to move between workspaces too, which I find very useful.
    • It’s now possible to open the Quick Settings menu using the super + s keyboard shortcut. A small-sounding change but, once committed to memory, it’s a real time-saver.
    • The Quick Settings menu now includes a keyboard backlight toggle, which is only shown when supported hardware is present. You can click the toggle to turn the backlight on or off, or open the sub-menu to adjust backlight brightness using a slider.
    • Many of GNOME’s core apps (Nautilus, Settings, Characters in the default install) now use full-height sidebars. Aside from making a great visual statement these improve the “adaptability” of applications as you resize them.
    • The Nautilus file manager in Ubuntu 23.10 boasts a ‘significant speed boost’ able to return search results in milliseconds, even when sifting through folders crammed with content; much faster file thumbnail generation; and a ‘search everywhere’ button to instantly expand search location.
    • The Settings app is packed with new perks. You can personalise the date/time layout shown in the Top Bar; peruse a new Privacy panel; view a more practical keyboard layout viewer; and view pertinent system info in a petite new System Details dialog.
    • Quarter tiling (and horizontal half-tiling) is enabled out-of-the-box in Ubuntu 23.10 as a new Tiling Assistant extension is preinstalled. This support more window tiling layouts including quarter tiling, and shows a pop-up to help you quickly tile an open window to an empty section.
    • new Flutter-based App Centerassumes software management duties, replacing the old GNOME Software-based Ubuntu Software. The new store has a sleek design and great performance (no more sluggishness). You can browse, search and install Snap apps, or Deb packages using a filter.
    • new Flutter-based firmware updater tool is included. I wrote about this app an eon ago so it’s nice to finally see it turn up in the default install. As you’d expect, this utility lets you update firmware for devices on your system, pulling in updates from the LVFS.
    • A side note: the new App Center and Firmware Updater tools come as preinstalled snaps, so removing snapd will remove them too – c’est la vie!
    • If you have a HiDPI display you’ll notice text and icons are pin-sharp in Firefox now. This is because the Firefox Snap runs in Wayland mode by default (it ran in Xwayland mode previously). As well as banishing blurriness it intros full touchscreen support for the browser.
    • Related, Ubuntu 23.10 makes a minor font change by swapping DejaVu fonts for Noto fonts. This improves font quality in apps like web browsers and text editors, and support for non-latin scripts.
    • Ubuntu 23.10 is powered by Linux kernel 6.5 (with Ubuntu patches on top). This brings better performance and power efficiency on AMD Ryzen Zen 2 and up; enables AMD FreeSync by default; faster parallel direct I/O overwrites in EXT4; and rumble support in Xbox controllers.
    • Graphics grunt is catered for by Mesa 23.2. This offers lots of improvements for gaming, and Ubuntu has added patches on top to fully support new the GPU in the Raspberry Pi 5 — nice!
  • Yikes, the Ubuntu 23.10 download has been pulled due to an issue with offensive content in translations. A new installer is being prepared and will be available to download soon.
  • Alongside the “main” edition of Ubuntu, new versions of Ubuntu flavours are also available to download, as are ARM images for the new Raspberry Pi 5 (same image supports the Raspberry Pi 4 too), and the Lenovo X13s Gen 1. Good video by Nick at the linux experiment going throught the flavours, headline – not a lot!
  • New version of Raspberry Pi OS released
  • from Distrowatch
  • Raspberry Pi OS (formerly Raspbian) is a free operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux and optimised for the Raspberry Pi hardware.
  • The project’s latest release is based on Debian 12 “Bookworm” and makes a move to switch the graphical interface from X11 to a Wayland session.
  • “For Bookworm, we are using a compositor called Wayfire. This uses a standard Wayland library called wlroots, which is used by several modern Wayland compositors. And because Wayfire works a lot better as a Wayland compositor on Raspberry Pi than Mutter did, Wayland is now the default mode of operation for the desktop.
  • (With one caveat – for now, Wayland is only the default on Raspberry Pi 4 and 5. The performance of Wayfire on earlier platforms is still being optimised, so for now they will continue to run the old X11 display server and the Openbox window manager, but at some point these platforms will also be switched to Wayfire.)
  • If you boot Raspberry Pi OS on a Pi 4 or 5, you will now get a Wayfire desktop.”

— Play Security Transition Bumper —

Security and Privacy

10 minutes

  • Curl patches ‘worst’ security flaw in ages
    • From the Register (via londoner)
    • Start your patch engines – a new version of curl addresses a pair of flaws, one of which lead developer Daniel Stenberg describes as “probably the worst curl security flaw in a long time.”
    • Curl 8.4.0 was released on October 11 and deals with CVE-2023-38545, which affects both libcurl and the curl tool, and CVE-2023-38546, which only affects libcurl. The update was available in Mint the same day.
    • The release has no API or ABI changes, so the update should slot in without too much aggravation. CVE-2023-38545 is rated as a high-severity CVE. Stenberg did not disclose any information about either flaw other than to note that the normal development process had to be cut short to get the fixes out as quickly as possible.
    • Stenberg said: “I cannot disclose any information about which version range is affected, as that would help identify the problem (area) with a very high accuracy so I cannot do that ahead of time. The ‘last several years’ of versions is as specific as I can get.”
    • Curl is one of those tools that forms the backbone of the internet and is a command line file transfer tool. According to the project team, the service is used in command lines and scripts to transfer data and is found in a range of connected devices, from printers to cars. The team claims it is “the internet transfer engine for thousands of software applications in over twenty billion installations,” adding: “curl is used daily by virtually every internet-using human on the globe.”
    • It first emerged in 1998, according to Stenberg, although its predecessors, urlget and httpget, date back to 1996. Stenberg adopted the cURL name because “the word contains URL and already then the tool worked primarily with URLs, and I thought that it was fun to partly make it a real English word ‘curl’ but also that you could pronounce it ‘see URL’ as the tool would display the contents of a URL.” Later, a backronym was coined: “Curl URL Request Library.”
    • An urgent fix is probably not the best 25th anniversary gift for the curl team, but here we are. Ax Sharma, a security researcher at Sonatype, noted the concern around the vulnerability and said: “This isn’t Log4j reloaded as some are painting it.” He went on: “Most usage of curl is as a command-line utility, distributed as an operating system package and used as a system level service provider or utility, which means normal OS updates should automatically take care of this. It’s very different from Log4j, which is embedded as a dependency, many layers deep, with no direct update capability.”
    • That said, Sharma emphasized that this is still a nasty vulnerability – that HIGH severity classification is a handy clue – and warned: “The most likely attack surface people should watch for when it comes to vulnerabilities is docker base images that aren’t receiving updates and which happen to have an application that leverages the vulnerable libcurl.”
    • He went on: “Overall, the best thing to do here is to not panic, but to install the patched packages ASAP, and don’t forget that containers can also contain operating systems – so keep them in mind.”
    • As for Stenberg, he said: “Now you know. Plan accordingly.”
  • Encrypted Client Hello
    • From the mozilla blog
    • When you browse the Internet, your data needs protection from prying eyes. Most online communication uses a security protocol called Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt your information and keep it safe. However, there’s a catch. This protection starts after an initial “hello” message, also known as a “handshake”. Unfortunately, this handshake happens in the open, exposing sensitive information like the name of the website that you are connecting to.
    • ECH 1
      • ECH addresses this vulnerability in the TLS protocol. When you use ECH, your initial “hello” message to a website becomes securely encrypted. Only the website you’re visiting can decrypt it, ensuring your message remains private throughout its journey. In simple terms, ECH acts as a guardian, making it much harder to identify which websites you are visiting, protecting your online activity, and improving your privacy.
    • ECH 2
      • ECH relies on DNS over HTTPS (DoH) for its functionality, using it to fetch the key needed for encryption. Together, they form an even more robust privacy barrier as DoH focuses on encrypting DNS queries to protect the translation of website names to IP addresses, while ECH encrypts the initial communication between devices and websites to improve the security of the connection establishment process.
    • This collaboration addresses weaknesses present when technologies are used in isolation, ensuring comprehensive online privacy. In line with Mozilla’s commitment to privacy and security in Firefox, ECH is enabled by default and used where available. ECH relies on DNS records fetched via DoH, so make sure to enable DoH. Using an encrypted DNS transport like DoH is vital to ensure your browsing traffic isn’t leaked via the normally unencrypted DNS protocol.
    • If you’re using family safety software or have deployed Firefox in an enterprise environment, you shouldn’t need to make any changes to your configuration. Firefox won’t use ECH to encrypt traffic if any of the DoH opt-outs have been configured. Similarly, if your family safety software or enterprise administrator have configured Firefox to use a transparent proxy, this will also disable ECH encryption.
    • Also, when you’re online, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) might be collecting information about what you do on the Internet, using invasive techniques like deep packet inspection. This is where ECH comes in as a game-changer. It addresses privacy worries by preventing ISPs from gathering your browsing data, creating profiles about you without asking, and selling this information. So with ECH, your data stays private, making it harder for them to build those profiles.
    • As a bonus, combining ECH with a VPN like Mozilla VPN adds an extra layer of protection to your online privacy. The VPN acts as a secure tunnel, masking your identity, while ECH ensures that your initial “hello” message remains confidential from network monitors. For details on using a VPN with Firefox’s ECH, see Encrypted Client Hello (ECH) – Frequently asked questions.

— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —

Bi-Weekly Wanderings

30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)

  • Bill
    • Well not much to report aside from work. It feels like I’ve been to the moon and back since last I’ve been on the show. It’s really good to be back. I feel out of sorts when I miss shows. Last week I also missed Linux OTC because of a family issue, so I’m a little out of touch in terms of my Linux exposure.
    • Last week I did decide to upgrade my video card to the AMD Firepro W7100. Currently I’m running the W5100 from the same line which is fine but there some features in the upgraded card that I thought I’d find useful. Most notably, the improved FFMpeg VAAPI which I’d like to use with OBS studio to lighten the load on the CPU while recording and streaming the shows I do. The 5100 does support VAAPI and seems to work relatively well with recording, but some may remember a few episodes ago when, while trying to stream to YouTube, VAAPI fell flat on it’s face, forcing me to re-tool, and start a new stream. I’m hoping the upgraded card improves the performance. The problem I ran into while installing the new card is that it requires 150 watts of it’s own power straight from the power source. The unit that came with my rig is rated for 180 watts total, so upgrading that became also necessary. Bill’s debit card to the rescue again. I purchased what I believed would be a future-proof Redragon PSU007 80+ Gold 850 Watt power supply, only to find when I got home from the road last night that it was not only too big for the mid-tier HP tower case I have, but I also need an adapter to go from the 24 pin motherboard connection to the wonky connections used by the motherboard in this unit. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have purchased this computer. It’s plenty powerful, but it is lacking in it’s customizability. Anyway – I ordered a full-sized ATX tower case ( actually ordered two of them, because I couldn’t decide) as well as the necessary adapters. So by streaming time for the next episode I should have everything up and running. For now I had to re-assemble the unit with the Firepro W5100 I’ve been relying on. Which, by the way is a solid option for anyone needing some pro-features without breaking the bank. All of the AMD Firepro cards 3100 and above I believe offer 4 DisplayPort outputs, making multi-monitor a breeze. You can pick up a Firepro W5100 on Amazon for less than 60 bucks. It’s probably the biggest one you can install without having to upgrade your power supply. There are lower tier iterations as well, the 5100 is probably the best bang for the buck.
  • Joe
    • I have not done a whole lot over the last two weeks anyway. I did have vacation for for one of those weeks but I wanted to take a break from a lot of things
    • Spent time watching TV with my wife and playing some video games. Mostly BL2 and Diablo 2. Fun and not the things that I normally do
    • That lasted most of the two weeks but my daughter’s Lenovo Flex was brought to me with a flickering screen. I kinda figured that it was a a cable that had gone bad from flexing due it being a convertible. But thankfully before I ordered a new cable I took it apart and checked the cable itself. The connector was a little bit loose. I reseated it and tested and sure enough no more flickering.
    • She is running Mint on the device and only uses it for research so I went and checked to see how many updates were needed. Just under 500 updates were needed. I started the update process and checked and she did not have the permissions to do the update. I added her to the sudo group and also to all the different groups that the user I had created was a part of. She may not use it but I will show her how to updates on her own.
    • I didn’t print anything for a while but in the last couple of days I started back up again. One of my favorite trucker style headsets I have done a lot of work to. Previously I had to rerun the power power cable for it because the battery is on the side without the earpiece and the cable had become very frayed. I had also previously made an adapter for the earpiece because the old one started crumbling and I didn’t have any others that would fit it. That part came off and so I decided to redesign that piece and try again. The only problem I had with the device is the angle that it sits at on the head after I made the adapter. The bottom portion never seemed to sit properly on the ear. I added an angled mounting point and verified that the hole would align in such a way that I could still take the screws out if the device needed to be worked on.
    • The new angle really helped with the comfort of the device and I like the orange color that I used. The larger earcup fits well and I like the fact that I can make another change and use an even larger one if I want to.
    • I have also done some looking and I found a couple of prints I want to try out for one of my ath-m50x devices. They are a high quality studio headphone that I have multiple of because they have a common problem with the hinge that is super easy to fix with a 3d print. But because they are studio quality they are very flat sounding and I don’t think that they are comfortable to wear because of how they sit on my ears. I have seen an open back mod for them and a pad extension for them. The open back mod was not 3d printed but I can make that happen and also add a bluetooth module for them. The pad extensions were to make it more comfortable on the ears but I think I can mod it to add some sound stage and maybe reduce the amount of padding on the inside to see how that changes the sound. I wouldnt mind a couple more ideas of things that I can do to make these more useful.
    • I did print another D-handle as well since I couldn’t find one of mine. Why I find this interesting is that I tried to use my original gcode for it. I tried and tried to get the orange filament to lay down and work and for the first layer it would be fine but then it would go to hell. I thought the material was causing the problem since it has been humid lately but when I switched to the brand new black I started having the same issues. Then I remembered that I printed the d-handle before I put on the fang cooler. So I had to manually set the fan speed to 50 percent. Then everything worked out fine. Going to need to remove all of my old gcode and remake them when I need them. Still the best d handles that I own.
    • This also led me to redesign the handle by making it more hollow and adding a slit to use with bands so that I don’t bruise my hands using a bunch of them together.
  • Moss
    • Between my various physical and mental health challenges since I was here last – and they have been many – my phone was nearly scuttled by an upgrade, my studio computer died, my last good pair of glasses broke, and we spent a lot of money getting my wife’s car fixed … which then died again two days later.
    • Ting gave us $100 credit to help us decided to buy a new phone, which we then did not do. Suzanne says I may need to wait until the holidays for one.
    • I got a new eye exam and new glasses ordered. They came in on Thursday.
    • I got a new Lenovo ThinkCentre M700 Tiny to replace my old one. The new one came with a 256 Gb offbrand SSD, which I replaced with the existing Samsung 512 Gb drive, and 16 Gb RAM, but was an i5 rather than the old machine’s i7. Even so, it only cost $119.90. It has arrived and I’ve gotten caught up on FCWN as of Friday afternoon.
    • The car was towed to our regular shop. We should hear something from them in the next few days.
    • And, just as I was set up to participate in the interview with Dani, my wife had something come up she just had to do, and Saturday was the best day to do it.
    • I did get my new Moderna covid shot. Unlike the other shots I’ve received, this one left me physically ill for several days, feeling like I had really bad things happening in my lower abdomen. It wasn’t until the pain went down that I noticed there was a pain yet in my arm where the shot was. I called my ex-wife, from whom I learned that she and her husband had their Moderna shots a day before mine and suffered the same side effects. Even so, it’s better than dying. Actually, the phone alert that was supposed to trigger the 5G zombie effects happened about 10 minutes before my shot, so I supposed I was spared.
    • Distrohoppers’ Digest will likely happen this week. I think I’m ready.
    • I only worked 1 day the past two weeks, although one period of that day featured a computer class and students actually asked me about my podcasts.
    • We have gotten zero new ideas and even less help on It’s Moss dot com, and are considering scuttling the project. Three people, all of whom are busy, are too few to run the project. If you have any ideas for open source or non-open Linux software and want to write about them, let me know.
    • And, finally, I took advantage of the Prime savings to order a new computer chair, almost exactly like Bill’s other than having a padded, rather than mesh, seat. It was only $120, half the usual price.
  • Majid
    • So I’ve had a relatively busy two weeks since the last episode. I’ve finally got rid of that iPad Mini. My daughter wanted us to keep it, but I managed to sell it and buy her a new android tablet (Honor X9 Pad, which is damn good value for money), AND a distro-hopper laptop (more on that later) AND still have money left over. Its weird, but I feel good about being Apple-free. I probably give too much credence to that kind of thing. I may dabble again in the future (now that iPhones had USB C) but I doubt it.
    • My distrohopping continues. After having read the release notes for Elementary OS 7.1 and being inspired by Danielle Fore’s blog post on the new release, I decided to jump in on my main laptop (i5-11th gen, 16GB 512GB). This was a dual booter with Ubuntu 23.04 and Windows. I still wanted to dual boot (as I had some work software I need it for). When I went to install, there wasn’t an “install alongside” option that Ubuntu and so I had to do manual partitioning, which wasn’t a bad thing, but just had to make sure I didn’t do any mess ups. Anyway got it installed without any issues,it does require a bit more set-up, needed to install some more apps (like an app to install deb packages, and hence figured out how to enable flathub. The lack of universal search was a bit of an issue for me, I installed Albert, and it’s ok, but not as good as Gnome Search or KDE Runner. I was planning to persevere with it as I really love the touchpad gestures and it does have a nice aesthetic. But today when loading it up to do these show notes, i just kept getting a grub prompt. I’ve a couple of ideas from londoner on how to fix this.I think I mustve organised my hard drive incorrectly when i was doing the manual boot install.
    • While I was doing this, I thought to myself, why not get a dedicated distro-hopping machine? I managed to find an ex-enterprise Dell Latitude with 6th gen i5, 8 GB ram, 256 Gb SSD for 100 bucks on eBay. So got that, its arrived, and I thought where should I start? I thought about Manjaro, after our discussions about “easy” Arch. I have always heard that their KDE spin was good, but decided to check out their Gnome edition in a live ISO. They have tweaked it really well, I really like the aesthetic, the different apps, and theming. Hence I’ve installed this. I love Manjaro’s onboarding set-up, and man this thing is fast. It’s only day 2, but its a good experiment.
    • So remember last time I mentioned how I had given my son a Windows laptop/tablet (Lenovo Miix, Surface clone), well, in 2 weeks he’s managed to damage the screen. However, using a spare monitor and keyboard, I’ve managed to make it a desktop machine for him. (I am NOT buying him another one!)
    • The rebrand continues. Having a podcast with a name of 20+ characters is not a good idea, making it Anaesthesiologist was probably going to make that worse, so Atypical Anaesthetist becomes Atypical Doctor.
    • So my Twitter account was borked by Elon, i quite liked being off grid for a while, but even after his stupid ideas, its still a good platform for real-time events. With the horrific things going on in Palestine and Isreal, I wanted to follow what was going on, so made a new account to do that. Almost instantly regretted it as its full of so much propaganda, hate speech and fake news. I have noticed not having the app on my home screen means i do check it less so maybe thats the way forward. I need to reactivate my Mastodon too.
    • Work is going fine, was interviewing for new junior doctors which was fun.
    • Went to a spiritual event, remembrance regarding the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. First time I’ve been to something like that. Was intense!
  • Eric
    • You may remember me talking about looking for a Linux tablet PC. I still haven’t bought one but I have done more research into what is available. The primary series of products I’m interested in are the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 510, 520, and 720 models. Each of them is a succesive generation of mobile Intel chips, starting with the sixth gen Skylake i5-6200U dual core chip running at 2.3GHz, the 520 being the seventh gen Kaby Lake i5-8250U quad core chip running at 1.6GHz, and the 720 also being a seventh gen Kaby Lake but the i5-7200U quad core running at 2.5GHz. The 720 is newer and more capable but also more expensive. It seems like the sweet spot is in the middle with the 520.

— Play Innards Transition Bumper —

Linux Innards

30 minutes (~5-8 minutes each)

  • Interview with Danielle Fore’ re latest Elementary OS release

— 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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