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Russ Allbery: Review: The Pyramid Waltz

Planet Debian - Sht, 01/08/2015 - 8:01pd

Review: The Pyramid Waltz, by Barbara Ann Wright

Series: Katya and Starbride #1 Publisher: Bold Strokes Copyright: September 2012 ISBN: 1-60282-792-3 Format: Kindle Pages: 264

Princess Katya Nar Umbriel is publicly a bored, womanizing, and difficult daughter to the rulers of Farraday. It's all an act, though, with the full knowledge of her parents. As the second child, she's the leader of the Order of Vestra: the equivalent of the Secret Service, devoted to protecting the royal family and, by extension, the kingdom, particularly against magical attacks.

Starbride is new to court and entirely out of place. From a northern neighboring country, and far more comfortable in practical clothing than the frilled court dresses that her mother wants her to wear, she has been sent to court to make contacts. Her people are getting the bad side of various trade contracts and desperately need some political maneuvering space of their own. Starbride's best hope for this is to study law in the palace library when she can manage to avoid the other courtiers. But then she and Katya stumble across each other, outside of the roles they're playing, and might have an opportunity for a deeper connection. One that neither of them want to entangle in their personal worries.

This is the last of a set of books I picked up while looking for lesbian romance with fantasy or science fiction elements. On the romance front, it's one of the better entries in that set. Both Katya and Starbride are likeable, in large part due to their mutual exasperation with the trappings of the court. (Making the protagonists more serious, thoughtful, and intelligent than the surrounding characters is an old trick, but it works.) Wright has a good ear for banter, particularly the kind when two people of good will are carefully feeling each other out. And despite Katya's need to keep a deep secret from Starbride for some of the book, The Pyramid Waltz mostly avoids irritating communication failures as a plot driver.

The fantasy portion and the plot drivers, alas, are weaker. The world building is not exactly bad, but it's just not that interesting. There are a couple of moderately good ideas, in the form of pyramid magic and secret (and dangerous) magical powers that run in the royal family, but they're not well-developed. Pyramid magic turns out to look much like any other generic fantasy magic system, with training scenes that could have come from a Valdemar or Wheel of Time novel (and without as much dramatic tension). And the royal family's secret, while better-developed and integral to the plot, still felt rather generic and one-sided.

Maybe that's something Wright develops better in future novels in this series, but that was another problem: the ending of The Pyramid Waltz was rather weak. Partly, I think, this is because the cast is too large and not well-developed. I cared about Katya and Starbird, and to a lesser extent their servants and one of the Order members. (Wright has a moderately interesting bit of worldbuilding about how servants work in Starbride's culture, which I wish we'd seen more of.) But there are a bunch of other Order of Vesta members, Katya's family, and various other bits of history and hinted world views, none of which seemed to get much depth. The ending climax involved a lot of revelations and twists that primarily concerned characters I didn't care about. It lost something in the process.

This book is clearly set up for a sequel. There is an ending, but it's not entirely satisfying. Unfortunately, despite liking Katya and Starbird a lot, the rest of the story wasn't compelling enough to make me want to buy it, particularly since the series apparently goes through another three books before reaching a real ending.

I enjoyed parts of this book, particularly Katya and Starbird feeling each other out and discovering similarities in their outlook. Katya teasing Starbird, and Starbird teasing herself, over her mother's choice of her clothing was probably the best part. It's not bad for what it's trying to do, but I think it's a bit too generic and not satisfying enough to really recommend.

Followed by For Want of a Fiend.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Yu Liansu: 养Zoë是一场战斗

Planet GNOME - Sht, 01/08/2015 - 6:54pd

这几日跟Zoë一起。Zoë过了一岁生日之后会扶墙走了,现在养Zoë于是更困难,相当于养3个韡武。这里是具体说一下今早的事,每个早上都像这样。

早上一起来,Zoë去看电视。但是遥控器不好用,Zoë就去修电视。修了一回儿,电视死机了。Zoë找爸爸,爸爸正手里拿个杯子。Zoë一手指遥控器,一手指电视,意思是让爸爸修。爸爸折腾遥控器的功夫,Zoë发现爸爸把杯子放到茶几上了。Zoë拿着玩,就落在地上了。家中的玻璃杯当然早就碎完了,这是个铁杯,里面水洒了一些。爸爸和奶奶看了都不管,每件事都管肯定会累死的。爸爸重启电视机(它下面的DVD机和边上的笔记本电脑早就被Zoë玩坏了),Zoë这时候发现杯子可以当球踢,从这里踢到那里,连着地上其它东西,茶叶罐子什么的,都成她的球了。踢着踢Zoë发现地上有一个别针,还是已经打开的,原来是爸爸为了重置手机(被Zoë玩坏的)用的工具,用完之后就被Zoë连着其它东西都打翻在地上了。Zoë不认识针,不知道会被扎,不过知道拿起来总是对的,于是拿起来交给奶奶。奶奶庆幸Zoë没有把它吃掉。

过一回电视开始唱了,Zoë看电视安静了一小会儿,奶奶正抓紧了时间休息,不想借这个机会她已经拉屎拉了一地。裤子得换自不必说,地毯则只能凑合擦,这样我们家成了唯一一个大肠干菌集中在客厅的家庭。这正在换裤子的当儿,Zoë又踩到屎上了,然后还坐下。这下子所有东西都得洗了。

Zoë可以扶着东西走。对她而言就跟玩电子游戏似的,想去什么地方得计算从哪里扶着,然后跳到另外一个可以扶的东西上。先扶沙发,再转身扶茶几,再转身扶墙,再顺着墙和电视柜这就到另一个房间了。所以她可以自己去所有地方。但是她不专一,每次要去哪里,路上遇到好玩的就不去了。比如:

Zoë遇到纸巾,就一张一张取出来,一边取一边大声叫,好像是Tristan在杀龙。然后抱着一团卫生纸倒在地上口吐泡泡,好像Tristan被龙毒倒了。又遇到盒子,那就打开,里面东西全拿出来,觉得好的拿给奶奶,其它的散在地上不要了。又遇到一个耳机,上面有麦克风。对着麦克风喊了一通,没用,也许是吃的,于是把麦克风吃了,又吐出来。顺带吐一堆各种方才吃的东西。又遇到一袋饼干,因为刚才吃麦克风饱了,所以不吃,拿出来分给奶奶。奶奶不吃就哭。奶奶吃一片,再拿一片给爸爸。爸爸不吃一样要哭。然后再拿一片。这半个小时就分饼分过去了。最后一片,先给奶奶,奶奶刚要吃,Zoë又改变主意了,收回来拿给爸爸。

这只是一个片段。最近孩子闹肚子,随时拉稀,家里东西被污染扔了一大批。虽然应该是孩子难受,孩子却一点难受的样子都没有,仍然精力充沛闹个没完。奶奶常常觉得她要受不了了。我觉得如果不是奶奶和爷爷这样有耐心,如果是我俩,我俩肯定会沉思生命的意义了,为什么要我们受这样多苦之类。任何项目自然都是做不成的,更别说读书喝茶了。


Yu Liansu: 回国第二日:郑州

Planet GNOME - Sht, 01/08/2015 - 6:54pd

回国后容易感受到压力和冷漠。比如电梯门开了,我弯腰把箱子抬起来,身子一直,所有人已经从我后面飞进去,电梯也满员了。第二次把箱子踢进去得以进入。

这些是意料之中,本不想写。又比如下了飞机坐火车,上车下车乘务员都没话。

上车没话。我当然没指望对方会说“您好”,我是问能不能从另外一头上车,我的铺最远,有两个带回国装满礼品的大行李我得从一头拉到另一头。乘务员不理我,不说可以,不说不可以,不停手,检后面的人的票。我们俩的对话仅限于我在说,对方没有在听。我可以自做决定从另一头强行上,但是知道如果这边没说可以,那边会打回来让我问这边。为什么知道?因为那就是我上次出国时坐车的经历。只好先上车,从车里拖过去。乘客看到两个行李大都让路了,也有不让的。没有抹黑中国人的意思,好坏都写,比如,放大件时有乘客主动指出哪张床下面有空间。这一点善意也是意料之中。

下车没话,是指要我换票,我在一床被子里找,说找到给您拿过去行吗?乘务员也不说话,不说可以,不说不可以,继续换其它人票。我几分钟后找到了票,找到她换票,都没对我说过一句话,也没看过我一眼。我下飞机到上火车,中间还需要坐一段公交,问公交司机坐这车方向对不对,司机沉默不语,不说对,也不说不对。我感觉到他似乎微微抬了一下眉,又不想继续做表情,也不愿再说。我灵机一动,问投币多少钱。司机说2元。我想,如果明知方向不对,却仍然说2元,就不是缺少善意,而是恶意了。按我的中国常识,人的冷漠因为缺少善意而非因为有恶意。司机不至于有恶意。回答2元就是肯定了方向正确,不然他会再不理我或者指头向外叫我出去。事实证明我是对的。

这都是意料之中,我注意这些细节仅仅是因为在国外不是如此。这次回国更换环境会显出来这区别。我完全没有不满和抱怨祖国和同胞的意思,正常的人不可能生活了三十年仍然抱怨自己的环境。我仅仅是注意到了。读者来信指出也许我在国外是外国人,受更好对待,评价中国应该按外国人在中国所受礼遇比较。我回复说悉尼和墨尔本市区华人占比15%,不是明显的外国人,另外撰文只是日记体裁,不是意在评价中国,不然一人所遇有限,不足评价。

但是今天的事却值得写下来。

从火车站转车,下了火车已经晚点,发现下次列车仅有十几分钟就要开出了。我有点慌,因为来不及先出站再入站了。我不知道下面要转的车在几站台,问列车员,一句话“不知道”。站台上这就没人可以再问了。我又问“您不知道我应该问谁”?答案一样:“不知道”。只好跟着人流到地下出站通道。出站通道是给人出站的,直通7个站台,信息提示很少,总不能每个都上去看看。我在里面团团转,找到一个穿铁路蓝制服的。我说,“没时间出站了,请问xxx次列车在几站台?”对方说不知道。我想也许具体车次谁都记不住,不如换个办法问。这里动车和普通列车都在同一个火车站,可能有些站台是专门为动车的,我应该问动车站台在哪里。又找到一个蓝制服,问“动车站台在哪?真是没时间出站再进了,不好意思”,我说。人家不语,用最小动作指了个方向(事后发现是相反方向)。我感激不尽,照所指方向去走了一段,发现是出站口,想必她是让我出站再进来,但是没兴致说清楚这个意思。每个出站检票员工面前都有几十个人,问她们肯定没人睬。有一位蓝制服身边人少,是向一位妈妈要小孩超高的补票费的,我借机去问,蓝制服说“不管这个”,然后继续跟妈妈吵。补票室的人看起来没事,我问了他,也是一句,“出站再进来”。我说怕误车,车要开走了,回答说“那个我管不着”。

真要先出站再入也不容易。出站的队卡在那里,因为一个老农满脸通红在跟检票员争执。检票的人要他补行李票,行李超重。他身材小,带一个扁担,前后各一个大包裹。他不肯补票,因为铁路从未真执行过这项起重规定,他觉得这是检票的针对他,欺负他。既然反正误车,我就不急了,在那里看这出戏,心里为他叹息了一段时间。我早上看上周的经济观察报,上面提到过一位铁路员工,在哀求之下,放行了一个送行的丈夫——他妻子带着孩子和行李。之后被铁路便衣记录下来,这位员工被停职三个月。我为老农心里叹息,是因为他面对的不是恶意,而是一套体制,一个机器。即使蓝制服想免去他的行李票,这体制也会惩罚她的善意。老农在为生活奋斗,但是阻挡他的蓝制服何尝不是?这里行李票也不是为了铁路营收——这点行李票钱,连便衣的便衣都不够——而是为了使老农们不带太多行李,便于管理海量旅客。这就是说,老农的愤怒是设计的一部分,这次刺激他一下,下次他就不带扁担了。他越回去愤怒地说这件事,越多的人不敢过线,铁路也就能更容易完成管理旅客的任务。你可以用情,用理,愤怒,哀求,总之面对体制单薄的个人抗争是可笑的。

为什么这一天的事我记下来?因为我在人山人海之中误车这事,我感觉到自己是一滴水在海洋中,既没有人关心我,我也影响不了谁。这个世界紧密联系着,却和我都没有关系。没有人关心我会不会误车,也没有人指望我关心他们。这种孤独无助的感觉是回国以来对我冲击最大的一次。

我不能指责铁路员工。我认为她们从事的是最困难的工作。她们全是女性。我记得有一个年龄和我妈妈接近的蓝制服,她小小的身子淹没在几十人围住的圈圈当中,声嘶力竭阻止一个客人进门,她的坚定和客人的坚定算是硬碰硬。好不容易解决了,另一个客人也是这样硬碰硬。得要怎样铁一样的意志,才能每天轮着跟人硬碰硬?须知旅客只需要硬一次,她却每次都得坚持到底。这份工作还需要她放弃女性关心照顾的天性,而是要拒人千里——也许只能选择天性拒人千里的女性,也许为了生存的奋斗她必须形成这种性格?也许试过男职工,结果经常引起打架,只好全换成女职工?如果是在澳洲有这样的岗位需要每天跟人吵几百次,员工不换岗位应该会去自杀吧。和她一样,所有拒绝我的铁路员工,肯定也是压力很大。也许她们每次想帮助旅客,都会使旅客提出更多要求或者无法完成任务被罚。也许旅客也没有善意,一有机会就逃票,在高铁厕所吸烟,动不动威胁投诉?这种令人绝望悲哀的生存状态是非如此不可吗?


In Korea, Smartphones Use Multipath TCP To Reach 1 Gbps

Slashdot.org - Sht, 01/08/2015 - 5:48pd
An anonymous reader writes: Korean users are among the most bandwidth-hungry smartphone users. During the MPTCP WG meeting at IETF'93, SungHoon Seo announced that KT had deployed since mid June a commercial service that allows smartphone users to reach 1 Gbps. This is not yet 5G, but the first large scale commercial deployment of Multipath TCP by a mobile operator to combine fast LTE and fast WiFi to reach up to 1 Gbps. This service is offered on the Samsung Galaxy S6 whose Linux kernel includes the open-source Multipath TCP implementation and SOCKSv5 proxies managed by the network operator. Several thousands of users are already actively using this optional service.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

GasBuddy Has a New Privacy Policy (Spoiler: Not As Customer Friendly)

Slashdot.org - Sht, 01/08/2015 - 2:54pd
An anonymous reader writes: GasBuddy has been a popular iOS and Android app for the last 5 years used to find the cheapest place to get gas. According to the Google Play store, there are over 10 million installs (in additions to the installs from Apple and Amazon's appstores). Now that they have a large enough number of users, GasBuddy has updated their privacy policy to allow them to collect more information. Some highlights of the privacy policy changes include: only 10 days for new terms to take effect (previously users were given 30 days to review the changes); collection of "signal strength related to Wifi or Bluetooth functionality, temperature, battery level, and similar technical data"; and [a warning that the company] will not honor a web browser's "do not track" setting.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Questioning the Dispute Over Key Escrow

Slashdot.org - Sht, 01/08/2015 - 1:38pd
Nicola Hahn writes: The topic of key escrow encryption has once again taken center stage as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff has spoken out against key escrow both at this year's Aspen Security Forum and in an op-ed published recently by the Washington Post. However, the debate over cryptographic back doors has a glaring blind spot. As the trove of leaks from Hacking Team highlights, most back doors are implemented using zero-day exploits. Keep in mind that the Snowden documents reveal cooperation across the tech industry, on behalf of the NSA, to make products that were "exploitable." Hence, there are people who suggest the whole discussion over key escrow includes an element of theater. Is it, among other things, a public relations gambit, in the wake of the PRISM scandal, intended to cast Silicon Valley companies as defenders of privacy?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tor Project Pilots Exit Nodes In Libraries

Slashdot.org - Sht, 01/08/2015 - 12:56pd
An anonymous reader writes: The Tor Project has announced a new initiative to open exit relays in public libraries. "This is an idea whose time has come; libraries are our most democratic public spaces, protecting our intellectual freedom, privacy, and unfettered access to information, and Tor Project creates software that allows all people to have these rights on the internet." They point out that this is both an excellent way to educate people on the value of private internet browsing while also being a practical way to expand the Tor network. A test for this initiative is underway at the Kilton Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire, which already has a computing environment full of GNU/Linux machines.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Critical BIND Denial-of-Service Flaw Could Take Down DNS Servers

Slashdot.org - Sht, 01/08/2015 - 12:14pd
alphadogg writes: Attackers could exploit a new vulnerability in BIND, the most popular Domain Name System (DNS) server software, to disrupt the Internet for many users. The vulnerability affects all versions of BIND 9, from BIND 9.1.0 to BIND 9.10.2-P2, and can be exploited to crash DNS servers that are powered by the software. The vulnerability announced and patched by the Internet Systems Consortium is critical because it can be used to crash both authoritative and recursive DNS servers with a single packet.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Georges Basile Stavracas Neto: Cleaning the house (GSoC #6) & GUADEC

Planet GNOME - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 11:55md
Some thoughts on Nautilus

During the last weeks, the code on Gtk+ side is more or less settled, so I started working on Nautilus.

The current situation is desperating.

Nautilus code is old and, after almost 20 years of hundreds of contributors throwing their coins in, things are in a poor state. Many different formatting styles, code tightly coupled, many old hacks still lying around… it’s very easy to get confused here.

So, before start trying to fit the new Places View code inside this spaghetti, we agreed on making a reasonable cleanup. You can already check some improvements on master, but there’s much work left to do.

Let’s take a look at Nautilus before:

And how it looks like now:

Spotted any difference? Hopefully not. This entire work is not related to UI, instead it is a major reorganization of the code. By the end of this cleanup phase, end users won’t notice any difference.

The main struggle here it to make the directory viewers (grid & list view, for instance) completely isolated, i.e. no widgets besides the views themselves are aware of the current directory. This may seem unintuitive at first, but this abstraction is needed in order to fit the new Places View, as it doesn’t represent a real location.

What changed up to now:

  • Moved management of empty states (empty folder & no search results) to the file viewers
  • Moved the floating bar to the viewers
  • Cleanup and reorganization of the focus chain
  • Removal of an old hack
  • Fixed an annoying bug

It may not look like a radical movement, but gosh, git says it -449/+382 lines of code, and each line of code removed and improved here counts.

GUADEC

As some of you may know, this year I’ll attend GUADEC. It’s the first time ever that I:

  • attend the conference
  • go to Sweden
  • go to Europe, in fact
  • bring paçocas and other brazilian sweets in my bag (as democratically asked by my mentor, under the risk of losing my life :P)

Now I have to find some vegan restaurants nearby to eat and a good park to meditate. Looks like there are some good options, but nevertheless I’m accepting suggestions here, in case someone knows (or even better, lives in) Gothenbutg.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank the GNOME Foundation for providing me shelter and covering most of the travel costs. It wouldn’t be possible without this kind sponsorship. See you all in Gothenburg, folks!

Urthecast Brings You Earth Images and Videos from the ISS (Video)

Slashdot.org - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 11:31md
Most of us probably won't ever visit the International Space Station (ISS) and look down at the Earth (motto: "The only planet we know has beer, so let's not ruin it"). Looking at pictures and videos made by cameras mounted on the ISS is about as close as we're going to get. There's already an ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment on Ustream, but Urthecast is putting out higher-definition images than what you see on Ustream, and has plans to put out even clearer images and video before long. While Urthecast is likely to accumulate plenty of "oohs" and "aahhs" as it rolls along, according to CEO Scott Larson their real objective is to sell imagery -- and not necessarily just from the visible light band of the overall spectrum -- to industrial and government users. People like us are still invited to look at (and marvel at) lovely images of our planetary home. NOTE: Today's video is about 4:30 long. If you want to watch and listen to more of Mr. Larson, we have a second "bonus" (Flash) video for you. Or you can read the transcript, which covers both videos.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Federico Mena-Quintero: Fri 2015/Jul/31

Planet GNOME - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 11:05md
  • I've been making a little map of things in Göteborg, for GUADEC. The red markers are for the main venue (Folkets Hus) and the site of the BOFs (IT University). There's a ferry line to get from near Folkets Hus to the IT Univerisy. The orange marker is the Liseberg amusement park where the roller coasters are. The blue markers are some hotels.

    Go here if you cannot see the map.

Max Huang: CALL FOR GNOME.ASIA SUMMIT 2016 HOST PROPOSALS

Planet GNOME - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 10:58md


CALL FOR GNOME.ASIA SUMMIT 2016 HOST PROPOSALSThe GNOME.Asia Committee is inviting interested parties to submit proposals for hosting GNOME.Asia Summit during the 2nd quarter of 2016.GNOME.Asia Summit is the annual GNOME Conference in Asia. The event focuses primarily on the GNOME desktop, but also covers applications and the development platform tools. It brings together the GNOME community in Asia to provide a forum for users, developers, foundation leaders, governments and businesses to discuss the present technology and future developments.GNOME.Asia Summits have been held in Beijing, Ho-Chi-Minh City, Taipei, Bangalore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing, Depok respectively over the last eight years.The Committees’s preference is to find a new location each year in order to spread GNOME throughout Asia and we are looking for local organizers to rise to the challenge of organizing an excellent GNOME event. The GNOME.Asia committee will assist in the process, but there is a definitive need for individuals to be actively involved and committed to the planning and execution of the event.You can learn more about GNOME.Asia Summit at our website: http://www.gnome.asia Interested parties are hereby invited to submit a formal proposal to the GNOME Asia Committee. The deadline for the proposals is September 11, 2015. Please email your proposal to gnome-asia-committee-listgnome org. We might invite you to present your proposal in more details over our regular IRC meetings or send you additional questions and requests. Results will be announced by the first week of October 2015.The conference will require availability of facilities for 3-5 days, including a weekend, during the 2nd quarter of 2016 (between March and June). Key points which each proposals should consider and which will be taken into account when deciding among candidates, are:
  • Local community support for hosting the conference.
  • Venue details. Information about infrastructure and facilities to hold the conference should be provided.
  • Preliminary schedule with main program & different activities.
  • Information about how Internet connectivity will be managed.
  • Lodging choices ranging from affordable housing to nicer hotels, and information about distances between the venue and lodging options.
  • The availability of restaurants or the organization of catering on-site, cost of food/soft drinks/beer.
  • The availability and cost of travel from major Asian and European cities.
  • Local industries, universities and government support.
Please provide a reasonably detailed budget (sponsorships, expenses, etc).
  • Plans for local sponsorship's
Please refer to the GNOME.Asia website. Please also check the GNOME.Asia Summit check listhowtos and the winning proposal for 2012 when putting together a proposal. You are welcome to contact gnome-asia-committee-list AT gnome org if you have any questions. Please help to spread the word and we are looking forward to hearing from you soon! GNOME.Asia Committee

China's Island-Building In Pictures

Slashdot.org - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 10:45md
An anonymous reader writes: The South China Sea is just small enough to have high strategic value for military operations and just large enough to make territorial claims difficult. For over a year now, the world has been aware that China is using its vast resources to try and change that. Instead of fighting for claims on existing islands or arguing about how far their sovereignty should extend, they simply decided to build new islands. "The islands are too small to support large military units but will enable sustained Chinese air and sea patrols of the area. The United States has reported spotting Chinese mobile artillery vehicles in the region, and the islands could allow China to exercise more control over fishing in the region." The NY Times has a fascinating piece showing clear satellite imagery of the new islands, illustrating how a fleet a dredgers have dumped enormous amounts of sand on top of existing reefs. "Several reefs have been destroyed outright to serve as a foundation for new islands, and the process also causes extensive damage to the surrounding marine ecosystem." We can also see clear evidence of airstrips, cement plants, and other structures as the islands become capable of supporting them.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Scott Kitterman: Plasma 5 (KDE) In Testing

Planet Debian - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 10:15md

A few days ago, fellow Qt/KDE team member Lisandro gave an update on the situation with migration to Plasma 5 in Debian Testing (AKA Stretch).  It’s changed again.  All of Plasma 5 is now in Testing.  The upgrade probably won’t be entirely smooth, which we’ll work on that after the gcc5 transition is done, but it will be much better than the half KDE4 SC half Kf5/Plasma 5 situation we’ve had for the last several days.

The issues with starting kwin should be resolved once users upgrade to Plasma 5.  To use the current kwin with KDE SC 4, you will need to add a symlink from /usr/bin/kwin to /usr/bin/kwin_x11.  That will be included in the next upload after gcc5.

Systemsettings and plasma-nm now work.

In my initial testing, I didn’t see anything major that was broken.  One user reported an issue with sddm starting automatically, but it worked fine for me.  During the upgrade you should get a debconf prompt asking if you want to use kdm or sddm.  Pick sddm.

When I tried to dist-upgrade, apt wanted to remove task-kde-desktop.  I let it remove it and some other packages and then in a second step did apt-get install task-kde-desktop.  That pulled it back in successfully along with adding and removing a reasonably large stack of packages.  Obviously we need to make that work better before Stretch is released, but as long as you don’t restart KDE in between those two steps it should be fine.  Lastely, I used apt-get autoremove to clear out a lot of no longer needed KDE4 things (when it asks if you want to stop the running kdm, say no).

Here are a few notes on terminology and what I understand of the future plans:

What used to be called KDE is now three different things (in part because KDE is now the community of people, not the software):

KDE Frameworks 5 (Kf5): This is a group of several dozen small libraries that as a group, roughly equate to what used to be kdelibs.

Plasma (Workspaces) 5: This is the desktop that we’ve just transitioned to.

Applications: These are a mix of kdelibs and Kf5 based applications.  Currently in Testing there are some of both and this will evolve over time based on upstream development.  As an example, the Kf5 based version of konsole is in Unstable and should transition to Testing shortly.

Finally, thanks to Maximiliano Curia (maxy on IRC) for doing virtually all of the packaging of Kf5, Plasma 5, and applications.  He did the heavy lifting, the rest of us just nibbled around the edges to keep it moving towards testing.

Will Autonomous Cars Be the Insurance Industry's Napster Moment?

Slashdot.org - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 10:03md
An anonymous reader writes: Most of us are looking forward to the advent of autonomous vehicles. Not only will they free up a lot of time previously spent staring at the bumper of the car in front of you, they'll also presumably make commuting a lot safer. While that's great news for the 30,000+ people who die in traffic accidents every year in the U.S. alone, it may not be great news for insurance companies. Granted, they'll have to pay out a lot less money with the lower number of claims, but premiums will necessarily drop as well and the overall amount of money within the car insurance system will dwindle. Analysts are warning these companies that their business is going to shrink. It will be interesting to see if they adapt to the change, or cling desperately to an outdated business model like the entertainment industry did. "One opportunity for the industry could be selling more coverage to carmakers and other companies developing the automated features for cars. ... When the technology fails, manufacturers could get stuck with big liabilities that they will want to cover by buying more insurance. There's also a potential for cars to get hacked as they become more networked."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Munich Planning Highway System For Cyclists

Slashdot.org - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 9:20md
An anonymous reader writes: The German city of Munich has been looking for solutions to its traffic problem. Rush hour traffic is a parking lot, and public transit is near capacity. They think their best bet is to encourage (and enable) more people to hop on their bikes. Munich is now planning a Radschnellverbindungen — a highway system just for cyclists. Long bike routes will connect the city with universities, employment centers, and other cities. The paths themselves would be as free from disruption as possible — avoiding intersections and traffic lights are key to a swift commute. They'll doubtless take lessons from Copenhagen's bike skyway: "Cykelslangen (pronounced soo-cool-klag-en) adds just 721 feet of length to the city's 220 miles of bicycle paths, but it relieves congestion by taking riders over instead of through a waterfront shopping area."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

System Administrator Appreciation Day 2015

Slashdot.org - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 9:00md
ninjagin writes: They might be underneath a desk, hauling cables above your ceiling, swapping out a drive in your data center, putting the blue smoke back inside that old pizza box on the rack, up at 2 :00AM dealing with an alarm, or upgrading or patching your systems over the weekend. But wherever they are today, take a moment to thank your friendly neighborhood system administrator. We always look to them to fix things up when things go bad, but they are rarely recognized for the majority of their effort — the quiet work they do in the background to keep the bits flying and things running smoothly.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ronnie Tucker: FCM#100-1 is OUT!

Planet UBUNTU - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 8:53md

Full Circle – the independent magazine for the Ubuntu Linux community are proud to announce the release of our ninety-ninth issue.

This month:
* Command & Conquer
* How-To : LaTeX, LibreOffice, and Programming JavaScript
* Graphics : Inkscape. * Chrome Cult
* Linux Labs: Customizing GRUB * Ubuntu Phones
* Review: Meizu MX4 and BQ Aquaris E5
* Book Review: How Linux Works * Ubuntu Games: Brutal Doom, and Dreamfall Chapters plus: News, Arduino, Q&A, and soooo much more.

Get it while it’s hot!
http://fullcirclemagazine.org/issue-99 We now have several issues available for download on Google Play/Books. If you like Full Circle, please leave a review.

AND: We have a Pushbullet channel which we hope will make it easier to automatically receive FCM on launch day.

$340 Audiophile Ethernet Cable Tested

Slashdot.org - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 8:38md
An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica has posted a series of articles attempting to verify whether there's any difference between a $340 "audiophile" Ethernet cable and a $2.50 generic one. In addition to doing a quick teardown, they took the cables to Las Vegas and asked a bunch of test subjects to evaluate the cables in a blind test. Surprise, surprise: the expensive cables weren't any better. The subjects weren't even asked to say which one was better, just whether they could tell there was a difference. But for the sake of completeness, Ars also passed the cables through a battery of electrical tests. The expensive cable met specs — barely, in some cases — while the cheap one didn't. The cheap one passed data, but with a ton of noise. "And listeners still failed to hear any difference."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Joe Shaw: Smaller Docker containers for Go apps

Planet GNOME - Pre, 31/07/2015 - 8:00md

At litl we use Docker images to package and deploy our Room for More services, using our Galaxy deployment platform. This week I spent some time looking into how we might reduce the size of our images and speed up container deployments.

Most of our services are in Go, and thanks to the fact that compiled Go binaries are mostly-statically linked by default, it’s possible to create containers with very few files within. It’s surely possible to use these techniques to create tighter containers for other languages that need more runtime support, but for this post I’m only focusing on Go apps.

The old way

We built images in a very traditional way, using a base image built on top of Ubuntu with Go 1.4.2 installed. For my examples I’ll use something similar.

Here’s a Dockerfile:

FROM golang:1.4.2 EXPOSE 1717 RUN go get github.com/joeshaw/qotd # Don't run network servers as root in Docker USER nobody CMD qotd

The golang:1.4.2 base image is built on top of Debian Jessie. Let’s build this bad boy and see how big it is.

$ docker build -t qotd . ... Successfully built ae761b93e656 $ docker images qotd REPOSITORY TAG IMAGE ID CREATED VIRTUAL SIZE qotd latest ae761b93e656 3 minutes ago 520.3 MB

Yikes. Half a gigabyte. Ok, what leads us to a container this size?

$ docker history qotd IMAGE CREATED BY SIZE ae761b93e656 /bin/sh -c #(nop) CMD ["/bin/sh" "-c" "qotd"] 0 B b77d0ca3c501 /bin/sh -c #(nop) USER [nobody] 0 B a4b2a01d3e42 /bin/sh -c go get github.com/joeshaw/qotd 3.021 MB c24802660bfa /bin/sh -c #(nop) EXPOSE 1717/tcp 0 B 124e2127157f /bin/sh -c #(nop) COPY file:56695ddefe9b0bd83 2.481 kB 69c177f0c117 /bin/sh -c #(nop) WORKDIR /go 0 B 141b650c3281 /bin/sh -c #(nop) ENV PATH=/go/bin:/usr/src/g 0 B 8fb45e60e014 /bin/sh -c #(nop) ENV GOPATH=/go 0 B 63e9d2557cd7 /bin/sh -c mkdir -p /go/src /go/bin && chmod 0 B b279b4aae826 /bin/sh -c #(nop) ENV PATH=/usr/src/go/bin:/u 0 B d86979befb72 /bin/sh -c cd /usr/src/go/src && ./make.bash 97.4 MB 8ddc08289e1a /bin/sh -c curl -sSL https://golang.org/dl/go 39.69 MB 8d38711ccc0d /bin/sh -c #(nop) ENV GOLANG_VERSION=1.4.2 0 B 0f5121dd42a6 /bin/sh -c apt-get update && apt-get install 88.32 MB 607e965985c1 /bin/sh -c apt-get update && apt-get install 122.3 MB 1ff9f26f09fb /bin/sh -c apt-get update && apt-get install 44.36 MB 9a61b6b1315e /bin/sh -c #(nop) CMD ["/bin/bash"] 0 B 902b87aaaec9 /bin/sh -c #(nop) ADD file:e1dd18493a216ecd0c 125.2 MB

This is not a very lean container, with a lot of intermediate layers. To reduce the size of our containers, we did two additional steps:

(1) Every repo has a clean.sh script that is run inside the container after it is initially built. Here’s part of a script for one of our Ubuntu-based Go images:

apt-get purge -y software-properties-common byobu curl git htop man unzip vim \ python-dev python-pip python-virtualenv python-dev python-pip python-virtualenv \ python2.7 python2.7 libpython2.7-stdlib:amd64 libpython2.7-minimal:amd64 \ libgcc-4.8-dev:amd64 cpp-4.8 libruby1.9.1 perl-modules vim-runtime \ vim-common vim-tiny libpython3.4-stdlib:amd64 python3.4-minimal xkb-data \ xml-core libx11-data fonts-dejavu-core groff-base eject python3 locales \ python-software-properties supervisor git-core make wget cmake gcc bzr mercurial \ libglib2.0-0:amd64 libxml2:amd64 apt-get clean autoclean apt-get autoremove -y rm -rf /usr/local/go rm -rf /usr/local/go1.*.linux-amd64.tar.gz rm -rf /var/lib/{apt,dpkg,cache,log}/ rm -rf /var/{cache,log}

(2) We run Jason Wilder’s excellent docker-squash tool. It is especially helpful when combined with the clean.sh script above.

These steps are time intensive. Cleaning and squashing take minutes and dominate the overall build and deploy time.

In the end, we have built a mostly-statically linked Go binary sitting alongside an entire Debian or Ubuntu operating system. We can do better.

Separating containers for building and running

There have been a handful of good blog posts about how to do this in the past, including one by Atlassian this week. Here’s another one from Xebia, and another from Codeship.

However, all these posts focus on building a completely static Go binary. This means you eschew cgo by setting CGO_ENABLED=0 and the benefits that go along with it. On OS X, you lose access to the system’s SSL root CA certificates. On Linux, user.Current() from the os/user package no longer works. And in both cases you must use the Go DNS resolver rather than the one provided by the operating system. If you are not testing your application with CGO_ENABLED=0 prior to building a Docker container with it then you are not testing the code you ship.

We can use a few purpose-built base Docker images and the tricks from Jamie McCrindle’s Dockerception to build two separate Docker containers: one larger container to build our software and another smaller one to run it.

The builder

We create a Dockerfile.build, which is responsible for initializing the build environment and building the software:

FROM golang:1.4.2 RUN go get github.com/joeshaw/qotd COPY / Dockerfile.run # This command outputs a tarball which can be piped into # `docker build -f Dockerfile.run -` CMD tar -cf - -C / Dockerfile.run -C $GOPATH/bin qotd

This container, when run, will output a tarball to standard out, containing only our qotd binary and Dockerfile.run, used to build the runner.

Dynamically linked binary

Notice that we did not set CGO_ENABLED=0 here, so our binary is still dynamically linked against GNU libc:

$ ldd $GOPATH/bin/qotd linux-vdso.so.1 (0x00007ffea6b8a000) libpthread.so.0 => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libpthread.so.0 (0x00007f6e76e50000) libc.so.6 => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libc.so.6 (0x00007f6e76aa7000) /lib64/ld-linux-x86-64.so.2 (0x00007f6e7706d000)

We need to run this binary in an environment that has glibc available to us. That means we cannot use stock BusyBox (which uses uClibc) or Alpine (which uses musl). However, the BusyBox distribution that ships with Ubuntu is linked against glibc, and that’ll be the foundation for our running container.

The busybox:ubuntu-14.04 image only has a root user, but you should never run network-facing servers as root, even in a container. Use my joeshaw/busybox-nonroot image — which adds a nobody user with UID 1 — instead.

The runner

Now we create a Dockerfile.run, which is responsible for creating the environment in which to run our app:

FROM joeshaw/busybox-nonroot EXPOSE 1717 COPY qotd /bin/qotd USER nobody CMD qotd Putting them together

First, create the builder image:

docker build -t qotd-builder -f Dockerfile.build .

Next, run the builder container, piping its output into the creation of the runner container:

docker run --rm qotd-builder | docker build -t qotd -f Dockerfile.run -

Now we have a qotd container which has the basic BusyBox environment, plus our qotd binary. The size?

$ docker images qotd REPOSITORY TAG IMAGE ID CREATED VIRTUAL SIZE qotd latest 92e7def8f105 3 minutes ago 8.611 MB

Under 9 MB. Much improved. Better still, it doesn’t require squashing, which saves us a lot of time.

Conclusion

In this example, we were able to go from a 500 MB image built from golang:1.4.2 and containing a whole Debian installation down to a 9 MB image of just BusyBox and our binary. That’s a 98% reduction in size.

For one of our real services at litl, we reduced the image size from 300 MB (squashed) to 25 MB and the time to build and deploy the container from 8 minutes to 2. That time is now dominated by building the container and software, and not by cleaning and squashing the resulting image. We didn’t have to give up on using cgo and glibc, as some of its features are essential to us. If you’re using Docker to deploy services written in Go, this approach can save you a lot of time and disk space. Good luck!

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