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Jo Shields: My name is Jo and this is home now

Mar, 29/10/2019 - 10:41pd

After just over three years, my family and I are now Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) of the United States of America. It’s been a long journey.

Acknowledgements

Before anything else, I want to credit those who made it possible to reach this point. My then-manager Duncan Mak, his manager Miguel de Icaza. Amy and Alex from work for bailing us out of a pickle. Microsoft’s immigration office/HR. Gigi, the “destination services consultant” from DwellWorks. The immigration attorneys at Fragomen LLP. Lynn Community Health Center. And my family, for their unwavering support.

The kick-off

It all began in July 2016. With support from my management chain, I went through the process of applying for an L-1 intracompany transferee visa – a 3-5 year dual-intent visa, essentially a time-limited secondment from Microsoft UK to Microsoft Corp. After a lot of paperwork and an in-person interview at the US consulate in London, we were finally granted the visa (and L-2 dependent visas for the family) in April 2017. We arranged the actual move in July 2017, giving us a short window to wind up our affairs in the UK as much as possible, and run out most of my eldest child’s school year.

We sold the house, sold the car, gave to family all the electronics which wouldn’t work in the US (even with a transformer), and stashed a few more goodies in my parents’ attic. Microsoft arranged for movers to come and pack up our lives; they arranged a car for us for the final week; and a hotel for the final week too (we rejected the initial golf-spa-resort they offered and opted for a budget hotel chain in our home town, to keep sending our eldest to school with minimal disruption). And on the final day we set off at the crack of dawn to Heathrow Airport, to fly to Boston, Massachusetts, and try for a new life in the USA.

Finding our footing

I cannot complain about the provisions made by Microsoft – although not without snags. The 3.5 hours we spent in Logan airport waiting at immigration due to some computer problem on the day did not help us relax. Neither did the cat arriving at our company-arranged temporary condo before we did (with no food, or litter, or anything). Nor did the fact that the satnav provided with the company-arranged hire car not work – and that when I tried using my phone to navigate, it shot under the passenger seat the first time I had to brake, leading to a fraught commute from Logan to Third St, Cambridge.

Nevertheless, the liquor store under our condo building, and my co-workers Amy and Alex dropping off an emergency run of cat essentials, helped calm things down. We managed a good first night’s exhausted sleep, and started the following day with pancakes and syrup at a place called The Friendly Toast.

With the support of Gigi, a consultant hired to help us with early-relocation basics like social security and bank accounts, we eventually made our way to our own rental in Melrose (a small suburb north of Boston, a shortish walk from the MBTA Orange Line); with our own car (once the money from selling our house in the UK finally arrived); with my eldest enrolled in a local school. Aiming for normality.

The process

Fairly soon after settling in to office life, the emails from Microsoft Immigration started, for the process to apply for permanent residency. We were acutely aware of the time ticking on the three year visas – and we already burned 3 months of time prior to the move. Work permits; permission to leave and re-enter; Department of Labor certification. Papers, forms, papers, forms. Swearing that none of us have ever recruited child soldiers, or engaged in sex trafficking.

Tick tock.

Months at a time without hearing anything from USCIS.

Tick tock.

Work permits for all, but big delays listed on the monthly USCIS visa bulletin.

Tick tock.

We got to August 2019, and I started to really worry about the next deadline – our eldest’s passport expiring, along with the initial visas a couple of weeks later.

Tick tock.

Then my wife had a smart idea for plan B, something better than the burned out Mad Max dystopia waiting for us back in the UK: Microsoft just opened a big .NET development office in Prague, so maybe I could make a business justification for relocation to the Czech Republic?

I start teaching myself Czech.

Duolingo screenshot, Czech language, “can you see my goose”

Tick tock.

Then, a month later, out of the blue, a notice from USCIS: our Adjustment of Status interviews (in theory the final piece before being granted green cards) were scheduled, for less than a month later. Suddenly we went from too much time, to too little.

Ti-…

October

The problem with the one month of notice is we had one crucial missing piece of paperwork – for each of us, an I-693 medical exam issued by a USCIS-certified civil surgeon. I started calling around, and got a response from an immigration clinic in Lynn, with a date in mid October. They also gave us a rough indication of medical exams and extra vaccinations required for the I-693 which we were told to source via our normal doctors (where they would be billable to insurance, if not free entirely). Any costs in the immigration clinic can’t go via insurance or an HSA, because they’re officially immigration paperwork, not medical paperwork. Total cost ends up being over a grand.

More calling around. We got scheduled for various shots and tests, and went to our medical appointment with everything sorted.

Except…

Turns out the TB tests the kids had were no longer recognised by USCIS. And all four of us had vaccination record gaps. So not only unexpected jabs after we promised them it was all over – unexpected bloodletting too. And a follow-up appointment for results and final paperwork, only 2 days prior to the AOS interview.

By this point, I’m something of a wreck. The whole middle of October has been a barrage of non-stop, short-term, absolutely critical appointments.

Any missing paperwork, any errors, and we can kiss our new lives in the US goodbye.

Wednesday, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, and various other physiological issues. The AOS interview is the next day. I’m as prepared as I can be, but still more terrified than I ever have been.

Any missing paperwork, any errors, and we can kiss our new lives in the US goodbye.

I was never this worried about going through a comparable process when applying for the visa, because the worst case there was the status quo. Here the worst case is having to restart our green card process, with too little time to reapply before the visas expire. Having wasted two years of my family’s comfort with nothing to show for it. The year it took my son to settle again at school. All of it riding on one meeting.

Thursday

Our AOS interviews are perfectly timed to coincide with lunch, so we load the kids up on snacks, and head to the USCIS office in Lawrence.

After parking up, we head inside, and wait. We have all the paperwork we could reasonably be expected to have – birth certificates, passports, even wedding photos to prove that our marriage is legit.

To keep the kids entertained in the absence of electronics (due to a no camera rule which bars tablets and phones) we have paper and crayons. I suggest “America” as a drawing prompt for my eldest, and he produces a statue of liberty and some flags, which I guess covers the topic for a 7 year old.

Finally we’re called in to see an Immigration Support Officer, the end-boss of American bureaucracy and… It’s fine. It’s fine! She just goes through our green card forms and confirms every answer; takes our medical forms and photos; checks the passports; asks us about our (Caribbean) wedding and takes a look at our photos; and gracefully accepts the eldest’s drawing for her wall.

We’re in and out of her office in under an hour. She tells us that unless she finds an issue in our background checks, we should be fine – expect an approval notice within 3 weeks, or call up if there’s still nothing in 6. Her tone is congratulatory, but with nothing tangible, and still the “unless” lingering, it’s hard to feel much of anything. We head home, numb more than anything.

Aftermath

After two fraught weeks, we’re both not entirely sure how to process things. I had expected a stress headache then normality, but instead it was more… Gradual.

During the following days, little things like the colours of the leaves leave me tearing up – and as my wife and I talk, we realise the extent to which the stress has been getting to us. And, more to the point, the extent to which being adrift without having somewhere we can confidently call home has caused us to close ourselves off.

The first day back in the office after the interview, a co-worker pulls me aside and asks if I’m okay – and I realise how much the answer has been “no”. Friday is the first day where I can even begin to figure that out.

The weekend continues with emotions all over the place, but a feeling of cautious optimism alongside.

I-485 Adjustment of Status approval notifications

On Monday, 4 calendar days after the AOS interview, we receive our notifications, confirming that we can stay. I’m still not sure I’m processing it right. We can start making real, long term plans now. Buying a house, the works.

I had it easy, and don’t deserve any sympathy

I’m a white guy, who had thousands of dollars’ worth of support from a global megacorp and their army of lawyers. The immigration process was fraught enough for me that I couldn’t sleep or eat – and I went through the process in one of the easiest routes available.

Youtube video from HBO show Last Week Tonight, covering legal migration into the USA

I am acutely aware of how much more terrifying and exhausting the process might be, for anyone without my resources and support.

Never, for a second, think that migration to the US – legal or otherwise – is easy.

The subheading where I answer the inevitable question from the peanut gallery

My eldest started school in the UK in September 2015. Previously he’d been at nursery, and we’d picked him up around 6-6:30pm every work day. Once he started at school, instead he needed picking up before 3pm. But my entire team at Xamarin was on Boston time, and did not have the world’s earliest risers – meaning I couldn’t have any meaningful conversations with co-workers until I had a child underfoot and the TV blaring. It made remote working suck, when it had been fine just a few months earlier. Don’t underestimate the impact of time zones on remote workers with families. I had begun to consider, at this point, my future at Microsoft, purely for logistical reasons.

And then, in June 2016, the UK suffered from a collective case of brain worms, and voted for self immolation.

I relocated my family to the US, because I could make a business case for my employer to fund it. It was the fastest, cheapest way to move my family away from the uncertainty of life in the UK after the brain-worm-addled plan to deport 13% of NHS workers. To cut off 40% of the national food supply. To make basic medications like Metformin and Estradiol rarities, rationed by pharmacists.

I relocated my family to the US, because despite all the country’s problems, despite the last three years of bureaucracy, it still gave them a better chance at a safe, stable life than staying in the UK.

And even if time proves me wrong about Brexit, at least now we can make our new lives, permanently, regardless.

Costales: Podcast Ubuntu y otras hierbas S04E01: UbuCon Europe 2019 y análisis de Ubuntu 19.10

Sht, 26/10/2019 - 3:41md
Paco Molinero, Fernando Lanero, Javier Teruelo y Marcos Costales entrevistamos a Joan CiberSheep sobre la Ubucon Europe y analizamos la nueva versión de Ubuntu 19.10.

Ubuntu y otras hierbasEscúchanos en:

Josh Powers: Ubuntu 19.10 Released

Enj, 24/10/2019 - 2:00pd
The next development release of Ubuntu, the Eoan Ermine, was released last week! This was the last development release before our upcoming LTS, codenamed Focal Fossa. As a result, lots of bug fixes, new features, and experience improvements have made their way into the release. Some highlights include: New GNOME version to 3.34 Further refinement to the desktop yaro theme Latest upstream stable kernel 5.3 OpenSSL 1.1.1 support Experimental ZFS on root support in the desktop installer OpenStack Train support See the release notes for more details.

Corey Bryant: OpenStack Train for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

Mër, 23/10/2019 - 2:56md

The Ubuntu OpenStack team at Canonical is pleased to announce the general availability of OpenStack Train on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS via the Ubuntu Cloud Archive. Details of the Train release can be found at:  https://www.openstack.org/software/train

To get access to the Ubuntu Train packages:

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

You can enable the Ubuntu Cloud Archive pocket for OpenStack Train on Ubuntu 18.04 installations by running the following commands:

    sudo add-apt-repository cloud-archive:train     sudo apt update

The Ubuntu Cloud Archive for Train includes updates for:

aodh, barbican, ceilometer, ceph (14.2.2), cinder, designate, designate-dashboard, dpdk (18.11.2), glance, gnocchi, heat, heat-dashboard, horizon, ironic, keystone, libvirt (5.4.0), magnum, manila, manila-ui, mistral, murano, murano-dashboard, networking-arista, networking-bagpipe, networking-bgpvpn, networking-hyperv, networking-l2gw, networking-mlnx, networking-odl, networking-ovn, networking-sfc, neutron, neutron-dynamic-routing, neutron-fwaas, neutron-lbaas, neutron-lbaas-dashboard, neutron-vpnaas, nova, octavia, openstack-trove, openvswitch (2.12.0), panko, placement, qemu (4.0), sahara, sahara-dashboard, senlin, swift, trove-dashboard, vmware-nsx, watcher, and zaqar.

For a full list of packages and versions, please refer to:

http://reqorts.qa.ubuntu.com/reports/ubuntu-server/cloud-archive/train_versions.html

Python support

The Train release of Ubuntu OpenStack is Python 3 only; all Python 2 packages have been dropped in Train.

Branch package builds

If you would like to try out the latest updates to branches, we deliver continuously integrated packages on each upstream commit via the following PPA’s:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openstack-ubuntu-testing/mitaka     sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openstack-ubuntu-testing/ocata     sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openstack-ubuntu-testing/queens     sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openstack-ubuntu-testing/rocky     sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openstack-ubuntu-testing/train

Reporting bugs

If you have any issues please report bugs using the ‘ubuntu-bug’ tool to ensure that bugs get logged in the right place in Launchpad:

    sudo ubuntu-bug nova-conductor

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to OpenStack Train, both upstream and downstream. Special thanks to the Puppet OpenStack modules team and the OpenStack Charms team for their continued early testing of the Ubuntu Cloud Archive, as well as the Ubuntu and Debian OpenStack teams for all of their contributions.

Enjoy and see you in Ussuri!

Corey
(on behalf of the Ubuntu OpenStack team)

Kubuntu General News: Plasma 5.17 for Kubuntu 19.10 available in Backports PPA

Mër, 23/10/2019 - 7:48pd

We are pleased to announce that Plasma 5.17.1, is now available in our backports PPA for Kubuntu 19.10.

The release announcement detailing the new features and improvements in Plasma 5.17 can be found here

To upgrade:

Add the following repository to your software sources list:

ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports

or if it is already added, the updates should become available via your preferred update method.

The PPA can be added manually in the Konsole terminal with the command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports

and packages then updated with

sudo apt update
sudo apt full-upgrade

IMPORTANT

Please note that more bugfix releases are scheduled by KDE for Plasma 5.17, so while we feel these backports will be beneficial to enthusiastic adopters, users wanting to use a Plasma release with more stabilisation/bugfixes ‘baked in’ may find it advisable to stay with Plasma 5.16 as included in the original 19.10 (Eoan) release.

Issues with Plasma itself can be reported on the KDE bugtracker [1]. In the case of packaging or other issues, please provide feedback on our mailing list [2], IRC [3], and/or file a bug against our PPA packages [4].

1. KDE bugtracker: https://bugs.kde.org
2. Kubuntu-devel mailing list: https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/kubuntu-devel
3. Kubuntu IRC channels: #kubuntu & #kubuntu-devel on irc.freenode.net
4. Kubuntu ppa bugs: https://bugs.launchpad.net/kubuntu-ppa

Stephen Michael Kellat: Assessing Cord Cutting

Mar, 22/10/2019 - 1:48pd

Well, the issue of cord-cutting has been brought up again at home. Costs are often a factor when evaluating services. Living in rural USA also means that choice of services is either limited or non-existent. Considering the number of shows/programs that family members are interested in that are available from different paid streaming services that don’t overlap, I wind up looking at a potential bill like this:

Hulu $7.99
Netflix $10.99
HBO Now $14.99
Apple TV+ $4.99
Disney+ $6.99
Amazon Prime Video $8.99
Total (Not including any applicable taxes) $54.94

The universe of streaming services was discussed in Streamings20190921 by me most recently. Prices shown above are likely subject to change and were current as of when I located them earlier today. Currently I do not have any updates about possible further increases in the Monthly Recurring Charge from Spectrum for cable broadband. That’s currently holding at $69.99 per month. In the end we would be looking at a total Monthly Recurring Charge of $124.93 before taxes for video entertainment plus broadband. Unfortunately the broadband service has trouble with maintaining consistency with streams. That is to say, how many different ways can we say “buffering”?

And then to see OMG! Ubuntu! mention today that Disney+ won’t support Linux adds to why I’m having trouble with the whole notion of shifting to streaming.

For now, I have one antenna mast working somewhat correctly. RF propagation has been problematical so we have only been receiving a few stations out of Erie, Pennsylvania. If we had to drop our current service from DirecTV and cut down the level of our cable broadband I would be happy to stick with basic broadcast. Right now the basic broadcasts out of Erie have some things DirecTV doesn’t carry such as Laff, Dabl, Comet, Court TV Mystery, and Cozi TV.

There are economic shifts afoot. In lieu of investing in streaming I have been leaning towards investing in cabinetry instead. Why? It feels at times like I could start my own “video store” with the DVD collection on-hand. Rural life does require some trade-offs it seems.

Sean Davis: Install Xubuntu 19.10 on a Raspberry Pi 4

Dje, 20/10/2019 - 3:11md

With the release of Ubuntu 19.10 “Eoan Ermine”, Ubuntu Server is available for the Raspberry Pi 4 for the first time. With the Pi 4’s major boost in performance, once we can install Ubuntu Server, we can install and run any of the flavors. Let’s get to it!

Getting the Server Image

First off, head to the Ubuntu 19.10 release images. We want one of the Preinstalled server images, since booting on the Raspberry Pi is still a tricky fiasco. You’ll see two installation options:

Two options, but only one right for the desktop.

We’ll want to choose the first option, Hard-Float. While the Pi 4 does in fact support the 64-bit ARM image, unfortunately USB devices fail to initialize with this option. If you have no need for mouse and keyboard, feel free to use the 64-bit option. This should be resolved in time for the 20.04 release.

Installing the Server Image

Once your server image has been downloaded, download and run Etcher. If you’ve never used Etcher before, it’s a simple, cross-platform solution for installing disk images to USB devices. It’s reliable and easy to use, and will help you avoid overwriting your hard drives.

Select your image and destination, then flash!

Select the downloaded image (.xz is fine, no need to extract), select the correct storage location, and the click Flash! After a few minutes, the image will be installed and validated, and you’ll be ready to go. Re-insert your MicroSD card into your Raspberry Pi, connect an ethernet cable, power it on, and proceed to the next step.

Note: Once USB installation finished, I received an error that the checksums did not match, but everything seems to work correctly afterward.

Logging In

This part tripped me up for a while. Once installed, the default username and password are both “ubuntu”. However, the first login to your Raspberry Pi has to be via SSH! First step, find the IP address of your Raspberry Pi device.

Be mindful that if you’re in a corporate or other shared environment, scanning for devices might be frowned upon. With that warning out of the way, let’s use nmap to look for our device. I’m not going to cover usage here, but a quick DuckDuckGo search can point you in the right direction. The server installation image defaults the hostname to “ubuntu”, so look for that.

$ nmap -sP 192.168.1.0/24 ... Nmap scan report for ubuntu.attlocal.net (192.168.1.230) Host is up (0.00036s latency). ...

Once you know where the device is, SSH in and reset your password. Enter “yes” to continue connecting if prompted for the fingerprint.

$ ssh ubuntu@ubuntu.attlocal.net ubuntu@ubuntu.attlocal.net's password: You are required to change your password immediately (administrator enforced) WARNING: Your password has expired. You must change your password now and login again! Changing password for ubuntu. Current password: New password: Retype new password: passwd: password updated successfully Connection to ubuntu.attlocal.net closed.

Now, SSH in once more with your new password, and let’s install Xubuntu!

Installing Xubuntu

We’re almost done! Now it’s time to decide: Do you want Xubuntu Core, the minimal Xubuntu base that you can easily customize to your needs, or Xubuntu Desktop, our standard installation option? I’ll be doing installing Core for this guide, but if you want to install Desktop, just replace “xubuntu-core^” with “xubuntu-desktop^”.

Also worth noting, while setting up Xubuntu on the Raspberry Pi, I came across an issue that causes our default login screen to fail. This has been fixed upstream, but to work around this issue now we will be using Slick Greeter for our login screen. Now, let’s get back to the installation. Please note that the caret, ^, is not a typo!

sudo apt update sudo apt install xubuntu-core^ slick-greeter

This will take a while. Once everything’s installed, the final step is to set Slick Greeter as the login screen. Create /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf with the following contents using your favorite command-line editor.

[SeatDefaults] greeter-session=slick-greeter

And finally, reboot!

sudo reboot Installation Complete

Your Raspberry Pi 4 will now boot into a graphical environment, and you’ll be greeted by Slick Greeter. Login with the password you created earlier, and the Xubuntu desktop will load, same as you’d find outside of the Raspberry Pi.

Up and running with Xubuntu 19.10! What’s Next?

That’s up to you, but the first thing I recommend is creating a new user. The default Ubuntu user is an administrator, and has a bit more power than you’d normally have on the a desktop installation.

Beyond that, the Pi’s the limit! Have fun, and enjoy running the mouse-based distribution on your mouse-sized computer.

Thanks!

I purchased my Raspberry Pi 4 with funds from my Patreon, so my patrons helped make this project possible. I’ll continue experimenting with the Pi 4, so look forward to even more awesome projects. Thanks everybody!

Kubuntu General News: Thanks to our Sponsors

Pre, 18/10/2019 - 9:05md

The Kubuntu community is delighted and proud to ship Kubuntu 19.10. As a community of passionate contributors we need systems and services that enable us to work together, and host our development tools.

Our sponsors page provides details and links to the organisations that have supported us through our development process.

Bytemark is a UK based hosting provider that generously provide racked and hosted bare metal hardware upon which our build chain KCI ( Kubuntu Continuous Integration ) operates.

Kubuntu Continuous Integration Server, provided and sponsored by Bytemark

Linode, our US based hosting provider that generously provide scalable hosting upon which our build chain KCI operates.

Build and Packaging Servers provided and sponsored by Linode

Big Blue Button provide an online virtual classroom primarily targeted for online learning environments, but has proved itself a valuable tool for remote collaborative working, and community events.

Video conference and training suite, as used by Kubuntu Podcast, provided by Big Blue Button

We are deeply grateful for the support these organisations provide, and we welcome others to come join our community and pitch in.

Lubuntu Blog: Lubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) Released!

Enj, 17/10/2019 - 8:38md
Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, Lubuntu 19.10 has been released! With the codename Eoan Ermine, Lubuntu 19.10 is the 17th release of Lubuntu and the third release of Lubuntu with LXQt as the default desktop environment. Support lifespan Lubuntu 19.10 will be supported for 9 months, until July 2020. If you […]

Xubuntu: Xubuntu 19.10 released!

Enj, 17/10/2019 - 8:23md

The Xubuntu team is happy to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 19.10!

Xubuntu 19.10, codenamed Eoan Ermine, is a regular release and will be supported for 9 months, until July 2020. If you need a stable environment with longer support time, we recommend that you use Xubuntu 18.04 LTS instead.

The final release images are available as torrents and direct downloads from xubuntu.org/getxubuntu/

As the main server might be busy in the first few days after the release, we recommend using the torrents if possible.

Xubuntu Core, our minimal installation option, is available to download from unit193.net/xubuntu/core/. Find out more about Xubuntu Core here.

We’d like to thank everybody who contributed to this release of Xubuntu!

Highlights and Known Issues Highlights
  • Xubuntu 19.10 features Xfce 4.14, released in August 2019 after nearly 4.5 years of development. Backed by GTK 3 and other modern technologies, Xfce 4.14 includes many new features, improved HiDPI support, and the same great performance for which Xfce is known.
  • Xfce Screensaver replaces Light Locker for screen locking. The new screensaver is built on years of development from the GNOME and MATE Screensaver projects and is tightly integrated with Xfce. It also features significantly improved support for Laptops.
  • We’ve added two new keyboard shortcuts to make transitioning from other desktop environments and operating systems easier.
    • Super + D will show your desktop, while
    • Super + L will now lock your screen.
  • ZFS on root is included as an experimental feature. Available in Ubuntu and the other flavors for this first time in 19.10, this feature enables full-disk installation of ZFS.
    • Remember, ZFS on root is experimental, so don’t run it on your production machines!
Known Issues
  • If more than one instance of the Xfce Pulseaudio Plugin is added to the panel, volume notifications will be duplicated.
  • Tooltips can become unresponsive in the Xfce Task Manager. Usually a bit of movement will cause the tooltip to fade away.
    • This bug will be fixed in Xubuntu 20.04!

For more obscure known issues, information on affecting bugs, bug fixes, and a list of new package versions, please refer to the Xubuntu Release Notes.

The main Ubuntu Release Notes cover both many of the other packages we carry and more generic issues.

Support

For support with the release, navigate to Help & Support for a complete list of methods to get help.

Ubuntu Studio: Ubuntu Studio 19.10 Released

Enj, 17/10/2019 - 7:26md
The Ubuntu Studio team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu Studio 19.10, code-named “Eoan Ermine”. This marks Ubuntu Studio’s 26th release. This release is a regular release and as such, it is supported for 9 months. For those requiring longer-term support, we encourage you to install Ubuntu Studio 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” and add […]

Colin King: Stress testing CPU temperatures

Enj, 17/10/2019 - 12:24md
Stress testing CPU temperatures is not exactly straight forward.  CPU designs vary from CPU to CPU and each have their own strengths and weaknesses in cache design, integer maths, floating point math, bit-wise logical operations and branch prediction to name but a few.  I've been asked several times about the "best" CPU stressor method in stress-ng to use to make a CPU run hot.

As an experiment I ran all the CPU stressor methods in stress-ng for 60 seconds across a range of devices, from small ARM based Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 to much larger Xeon desktop servers just to see how hot CPUs get. The thermal measurements were based on the most relevant thermal zones, for example, on x86 this is the CPU package thermal zone.  In between each stress run 60 seconds of idle time was added to allow the CPU to cool.

Below are the results:

As one can see, quite a mixed set of results and it is hard to recommend any specific CPU stressor method as the "best" across a range of CPUs.  It does appear that the mix of 64 bit integer and floating point cpu stress methods do seem to be generally rather good for making most CPUs run hot.
With this is mind, I think we can conclude there is no such thing as a perfect way to make a CPU run hot as it is very architecture dependant.  Fortunately the stress-ng CPU stressor has a large suite of methods to exercise the CPU in different ways, so there should be a good stressor somewhere in that collection to max out your CPU.  Knowing which one is the tricky part(!)



Jonathan Carter: Calamares Plans for Debian 11

Enj, 17/10/2019 - 11:01pd

Brief history of Calamares in Debian

Before Debian 9 was released, I was preparing a release for a derivative of Debian that was a bit different than other Debian systems I’ve prepared for redistribution before. This was targeted at end-users, some of whom might have used Ubuntu before, but otherwise had no Debian related experience. I needed to find a way to make Debian really easy for them to install. Several options were explored, and I found that Calamares did a great job of making it easy for typical users to get up and running fast.

After Debian 9 was released, I learned that other Debian derivatives were also using Calamares or planning to do so. It started to make sense to package Calamares in Debian so that we don’t do duplicate work in all these projects. On its own, Calamares isn’t very useful, if you ran the pure upstream version in Debian it would crash before it starts to install anything. This is because Calamares needs some configuration and helpers depending on the distribution. Most notably in Debian’s case, this means setting the location of the squashfs image we want to copy over, and some scripts to either install grub-pc or grub-efi depending on how we boot. Since I already did most of the work to figure all of this out, I created a package called calamares-settings-debian, which contains enough configuration to install Debian using Calamares so that derivatives can easily copy and adapt it to their own calamares-settings-* packages for use in their systems.

In Debian 9, the live images were released without an installer available in the live session. Unfortunately the debian-installer live session that was used in previous releases had become hard to maintain and had a growing number of bugs that didn’t make it suitable for release, so Steve from the live team suggested that we add Calamares to the Debian 10 test builds and give it a shot, which surprised me because I never thought that Calamares would actually ship on official Debian media. We tried it out, and it worked well so Debian 10 live media was released with it. It turned out great, every review of Debian 10 I’ve seen so far had very good things to say about it, and the very few problems people have found have already been fixed upstream (I plan to backport those fixes to buster soon).

Plans for Debian 11 (bullseye)

New slideshow

If I had to choose a biggest regret regarding the Debian 10 release, this slideshow would probably be it. It’s just the one slide depicted above. The time needed to create a nice slideshow was one constraint, but another was that I also didn’t have enough time to figure out how its translations work and do a proper call for translations in time for the hard freeze. I consider the slideshow a golden opportunity to explain to new users what the Debian project is about and what this new Debian system they’re installing is capable of, so this is basically a huge missed opportunity that I don’t want to repeat again.

I intend to pull in some help from the web team, publicity team and anyone else who might be interested to cover slides along the topics of (just a quick braindump, final slides will likely have significantly different content):

  • The Debian project, and what it’s about
    • Who develops Debian and why
    • Cover the social contract, and perhaps touch on the DFSG
  • Who uses Debian? Mention notable users and use cases
    • Big and small commercial companies
    • Educational institutions
    • …even NASA?
  • What Debian can do
    • Explain vast package library
    • Provide some tips and tricks on what to do next once the system is installed
  • Where to get help
    • Where to get documentation
    • Where to get additional help

It shouldn’t get to heavy and shouldn’t run longer than a maximum of three minutes or so, because in some cases that might be all we have during this stage of the installation.

Try out RAID support

Calamares now has RAID support. It’s still very new and as far as I know it’s not yet widely tested. It needs to be enabled as a compile-time option and depends on kpmcore 4.0.0, which Calamares uses for its partitioning backend. kpmcore 4.0.0 just entered unstable this week, so I plan to do an upload to test this soon.

RAID support is one of the biggest features missing from Calamares, and enabling it would make it a lot more useful for typical office environments where RAID 1 is typically used on worktations. Some consider RAID on desktops somewhat less important than it used to be. With fast SSDs and network provisioning with gigabit ethernet, it’s really quick to recover from a failed disk, but you still have downtime until the person responsible pops over to replace that disk. At least with RAID-1 you can avoid or drastically decrease downtime, which makes the cost of that extra disk completely worth while.

Add Debian-specific options

The intent is to keep the installer simple, so adding new options is a tricky business, but it would be nice to cover some Debian-specific options in the installer just like debian-installer does. At this point I’m considering adding:

  • Choosing a mirror. Currently it just default to writing a sources.list file that uses deb.debian.org, which is usually just fine.
  • Add an option to enable popularity contest (popcon). As a Debian developer I find popcon stats quite useful. Even though just a small percentage of people enable it, it provides enough data to help us understand how widely packages are used, especially in relation to other packages, and I’m slightly concerned that desktop users who now use Calamares instead of d-i who forget to enable popcon after installation, will result in skewing popcon results for desktop packages compared to previous releases.

Skip files that we’re deleting anyway

At DebConf19, I gave a lightning talk titled “Is it possible to install Debian in a lightning talk slot?”. The answer was sadly “No.”. The idea is that you should be able to install a full Debian desktop system within 5 minutes. In my preparations for the talk, I got it down to just under 6 minutes. It ended up taking just under 7 minutes during my lightnight talk, probably because I forgot to plug in my laptop into a power source and somehow got throttled to save power. Under 7 minutes is fast, but the exercise got me looking at what wasted the most time during installation.

Of the avoidable things that happen during installation, the thing that takes up the most time by a large margin is removing packages that we don’t want on the installed system. During installation, the whole live system is copied from the installation media over to the hard disk, and then the live packages (including Calamares) is removed from that installation. APT (or actually more speficically dpkg) is notorious for playing it safe with filesystem operations, so removing all these live packages takes quite some time (more than even copying them there in the first place).

The contents of the squashfs image is copied over to the filesystem using rsync, so it is possible to provide an exclude list of files that we don’t want. I filed a bug in Calamares to add support for such an exclude list, which was added in version 3.2.15 that was released this week. Now we also need to add support in the live image build scripts to generate these file lists based on the packages we want to remove, but that’s part of a different long blog post all together.

This feature also opens the door for a minimal mode option, where you could choose to skip non-essential packages such as LibreOffice and GIMP. In reality these packages will still be removed using APT in the destination filesystem, but it will be significantly faster since APT won’t have to remove any real files. The Ubuntu installer (Ubiquity) has done something similar for a few releases now.

Add a framebuffer session

As is the case with most Qt5 applications, Calamares can run directly on the Linux framebuffer without the need for Xorg or Wayland. To try it out, all you need to do is run “sudo calamares -platform linuxfb” on a live console and you’ll get Calamares right there in your framebuffer. It’s not tested upstream so it looks a bit rough. As far as I know I’m the only person so far to have installed a system using Calamares on the framebuffer.

The plan is to create a systemd unit to launch this at startup if ‘calamares’ is passed as a boot parameter. This way, derivatives who want this who uses a calamares-settings-debian (or their own fork) can just create a boot menu entry to activate the framebuffer installation without any additional work. I don’t think it should be too hard to make it look decent in this mode either,

Calamares on the framebuffer might also be useful for people who ship headless appliances based on Debian but who still need a simple installer.

Document calamares-settings-debian for derivatives

As the person who put together most of calamares-settings-debian, I consider it quite easy to understand and adapt calamares-settings-debian for other distributions. But even so, it takes a lot more time for someone who wants to adapt it for a derivative to delve into it than it would to just read some quick documentation on it first.

I plan to document calamares-settings-debian on the Debian wiki that covers everything that it does and how to adapt it for derivatives.

Improve Scripts

When writing helper scripts for Calamares in Debian I focused on getting it working, reliably and in time for the hard freeze. I cringed when looking at some of these again after the buster release, it’s not entirely horrible but it can use better conventions and be easier to follow, so I want to get it right for Bullseye. Some scripts might even be eliminated if we can build better images. For example, we install either grub-efi or grub-pc from the package pool on the installation media based on the boot method used, because in the past you couldn’t have both installed at the same time so they were just shipped as additional available packages. With changes in the GRUB packaging (for a few releases now already) it’s possible to have grub-efi and grub-pc-bin installed at the same time, so if we install both at build time it may be possible to simplify those pieces (and also save another few precious seconds of install time).

Feature Requests

I’m sure some people reading this will have more ideas, but I’m not in a position to accept feature requests right now, Calamares is one of a whole bunch of areas in Debian I’m working on in this release. If you have ideas or feature requests, rather consider filing them in Calamares’ upstream bug tracker on GitHub or get involved in the efforts. Calamares has an IRC channel on freenode (#calamares), and for Debian specific stuff you can join the Debian live channel on oftc (#debian-live).

Costales: Ubucon Europe 2019 | Sintra edition

Mar, 15/10/2019 - 7:00md
¡Y comienza una nueva Ubucon Europea! En esta ocasión en Sintra, Portugal.¡Bienvenidos!

Llegué el día anterior justo a tiempo para una cena de bienvenida organizada en un vivero de empresas extravagante: Chalet 12. Allí unas 25 personas compartimos momentos entrañables con una cena cocinada por la propia organización.Marco | Costales | Tiago | OliveLo cierto es que la organización Ubuntu-PT estuvo realizando actividades y visitas toda la semana para los miembros de la comunidad que iban llegando con antelación, todo un detallazo.Día 1Llegué de los primeros al Centro Cultural Olga Cadaval, un edificio que se divide en dos alas principales con grandes espacios abiertos. A parte de las conferencias, había un stand de UBPorts y Libretrend. Incluso café gratis durante toda la jornada. En el stand de UBPorts pude probar el Pinebook con Ubuntu Touch.
Pinebook

Tras recoger mi identificación y un paquete de bienvenida (camiseta, pings, pegatinas...) comenzó en el auditorio la presentación de esta nueva edición por parte de Tiago Carrondo. 
Conferencia de apertura
Acto seguido, el mismo Tiago nos anunció el 15 cumpleaños de Ubuntu, algo en lo que no había caído y moló, repasando los momentos más importantes de Ubuntu en su corta pero intensa vida.Conferencia 15 Cumpleaños

Yo puse mi granito de arena con dos conferencias, la primera por la mañana, rodeado de arte (cuadros de Nadir Afonso) analicé los peligros concernientes a nuestra privacidad online y cómo podemos mejorarla.Privacy on the Net

En cuanto finalicé mi conferencia, acudí a ver la mitad de la conferencia de Rudy sobre "Events in your Local Community Team", donde repasa los logros de Ubuntu Paris, con sus Ubuntu Party y WebCafe.
Events in your Local Community Team
A las 13:15 nos fuimos a comer unos cuantos a un restaurante cerca de la estación. 
Comida

Yo impartía un workshop de dos horas a las 3 (o eso pensaba) sobre cómo desarrollar una aplicación nativa para Ubuntu Touch. Salimos Mateo Salta y yo un poco antes para llegar a tiempo, pero me estaba buscando Tiago, que la conferencia comenzaba a las 14:30 y había personas esperando desde entonces. Vaya vergüenza y desde aquí pedir disculpas a la organización y a los asistentes a mi conferencia por ese retraso. En el workshop mostré cómo realizar una linterna en QML para Ubuntu Touch, algo que maravilló a los asistentes por la sencillez y pocas líneas de código.
Creating an Ubuntu Phone app

El día lo finalizamos yendo a una cervecería para calentar motores
Saloon 2

Y posteriormente cenar todos juntos al restaurante O Tunel, donde degustamos platos tradicionales que estaban exquisitos. Estos momentos son los mejores (en mi opinión) pues es cuando realmente se crea y convive en comunidad.
Cena
Día 2Día largo por delante, con 4 conferencias simultáneas.
Yo me decanté por la de Jesús Escolar y su conferencia Applied Security for Containers, una conferencia donde te das cuenta de los peligros que rodean todas las plataformas y servicios.Applied Security for Containers

Después conocí a Vadim, desarrollador web profesional que nos mostró su flujo de trabajo y pequeños trucos para ganar tiempo desarrollando.Scripts de Vadim

Tras Vadim, Marius Quabeck mostró los pasos para crear un podcast. Apunté algún programa que comentó para editar el podcast de Ubuntu y otras hierbas.
Quabeck mostrando cómo crear y editar un podcast

La comida no fue organizada y nos juntamos todos, por lo que costó encontrar un restaurante para tanta gente.En la tarde, Joan CiberSheep comenzó las conferencias enseñándonos las posibilidades para crear una aplicación de Ubuntu Touch. Yo me quedé un poco anclado en el tiempo con los comandos y workflow de Canonical y UBPorts ha evolucionado muchísimo la programación del móvil con Ubuntu.Joan

Finalmente, Simos nos mostró las bondades de LXC con su conferencia Linux Containers LXC/LXD.Linux Containers

Destacar aquí la gifbox que montó Rudy y Olive, una cámara que junta una secuencia de fotografías en un gif, siendo muy divertido e inesperado el resultado final de cada uno que se fotografía.



Al atardecer, el plan fue juntarnos en una cervecería de las afueras. Tras unas tapas, el dueño nos mostró el proceso de elaboración de la cerveza en su pequeña bodega. 
Explicándonos la fabricación de cerveza

El plato principal fue un bacalao a la brasa junto a una degustación de cervezas. Este evento estaba subvencionado parcialmente por un mecenas anónimo, así que mil gracias desde este humilde post.Cervecería

Como broche final, Jaime preparó una sorpresa que me entusiasmó, una bandina de 2 gaitas y un tambor nos amenizó y animó a bailar en una fiesta que duró hasta la media noche.
¡Fiesta! :)

Día 3Hoy nos depara una fiesta del 15 aniversario de Ubuntu, estamos todos ansiosos de cómo será :PHoy podríamos decir que es la 'UBPortsCON', pues habrá un montón de conferencias sobre el estado de Ubuntu Touch.
Precisamente la primera de todas es de Jan Sprinz, repasando el pasado, mostrándonos el presente y analizando hacia dónde se encamina este interesante proyecto que nos otorga una alternativa libre a los todo poderosos Android e iOS.Jan Sprinz narrando la historia de Ubuntu Touch

El mismo Jan nos enseñó uno de los bastiones de UBPorts, el instalador que automatiza y convierte en un juego de niños instalar Ubuntu Touch en nuestro móvil, siempre que sea uno de los dispositivos compatibles a los que ha sido portado.
Tras la conferencia de Jan, Rudy me avisó para ir a la Ubuntu Europe Federation Board Open Meeting, una federación creada precisamente para facilitar a organizadores realizar eventos ubunteros como este.
Finalizando la mañana, Joan CiberSheep nos explicó las guías de usabilidad y diseño de Ubuntu Touch.Usabilidad y diseño de Ubuntu Touch

En esta ocasión comimos por grupos en distintos restaurantes y volvimos puntuales para realizar la fotografía de grupo.
Después el gran Martin Wimpress nos narró la historia de la paquetería snap y los motivos de Canonical para crearla.Martin Wimpress

Una conferencia muy interesante fue la de Dario Cavedon, que enlazó de forma poco habitual su afición por correr con la privacidad.Dario Cavedon

Escogí como última conferencia la de Rute Solipa, que nos explicó el proceso y las dificultades de migrar a software libre el municipio portugués de Seixal.
Migración de Seixal

En la noche, acudimos al mismo bar bar, cenando y celebrando a ritmo de gaita el 15 aniversario de Ubuntu :))
Fiesta de cumpleaños
Día 4Último día de la Ubucon :'( Yo quiero más jejejejeEscogí la conferencia de Michal Kohutek, quien nos mostró cómo mejorar los materiales educativos analizando con sensores el seguimiento ocular del lector.Michal y Jesús Escolar con reconocimiento ocular

Marco Trevisan nos mostró la transición a GNOME del escritorio de Ubuntu y qué nos depara la futura versión LTS.Futura Ubuntu 20.04

Y para finalizar, Tiago Carrondo, quien abrió el primer día, cerró el evento explicando qué es necesario para realizar una Ubucon, las dificultades para organizar esta edición y estadísticas de asistencia. Fue emotivo cuando todos los voluntarios subieron al escenario.
El final

Para la comida fuimos en grupos a distintos restaurantes, nosotros finalizamos en una cafetería con un café y pastel.
Comida

En la tarde había pensado pasear y conocer un poco mejor Sintra, pero con Joan, una conversación deriva a la siguiente, así que la tarde transcurrió en el mismo bar que cenamos los días anteriores. A la hora de la cena se juntó más gente y acabó dándonos la una de la madrugada mientras intentábamos arreglar el mundo :)
Los últimos supervivientes
El resumen
La Ubucon Europea se consolida año tras año. La organización este año ha sido muy buena, con muchas conferencias y actividades extra.
Sintra ha sido una buena elección, una ciudad acogedora, con buenas infraestructuras que permitiesen desarrollar un evento de estas características.
Y ha sido una muestra más de que lo mejor de Ubuntu es su comunidad.
 ¡Hasta el próximo año!

Parece que resuenan rumores de que el próximo año será en Italia... ¡Quién sabe, ojalá! :)
Ya en el recuerdo queda el haber disfrutado con evento único, el haber aprendido un poco en cada una de las conferencias y especialmente, el volver a ver a los amigos que se van formando en ediciones previas y que son los que realmente hacen que la Ubucon Europea sea entrañable.

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, September 2019

Mar, 15/10/2019 - 9:20pd


Like each month, here comes a report about
the work of paid contributors
to Debian LTS.

Individual reports

In September, 212.75 work hours have been dispatched among 12 paid contributors. Their reports are available:

  • Adrian Bunk did nothing (and got no hours assigned), but has been carrying 26h from August to October.
  • Ben Hutchings did 20h (out of 20h assigned).
  • Brian May did 10h (out of 10h assigned).
  • Chris Lamb did 18h (out of 18h assigned).
  • Emilio Pozuelo Monfort did 30h (out of 23.75h assigned and 5.25h from August), thus anticipating 1h from October.
  • Hugo Lefeuvre did nothing (out of 23.75h assigned), thus is carrying over 23.75h for October.
  • Jonas Meurer did 5h (out of 10h assigned and 9.5h from August), thus carrying over 14.5h to October.
  • Markus Koschany did 23.75h (out of 23.75h assigned).
  • Mike Gabriel did 11h (out of 12h assigned + 0.75h remaining), thus carrying over 1.75h to October.
  • Ola Lundqvist did 2h (out of 8h assigned and 8h from August), thus carrying over 14h to October.
  • Roberto C. Sánchez did 16h (out of 16h assigned).
  • Sylvain Beucler did 23.75h (out of 23.75h assigned).
  • Thorsten Alteholz did 23.75h (out of 23.75h assigned).
Evolution of the situation

September was more like a regular month again, though two contributors were not able to dedicate any time to LTS work.

For October we are welcoming Utkarsh Gupta as a new paid contributor. Welcome to the team, Utkarsh!

This month, we’re glad to announce that Cloudways is joining us as a new silver level sponsor ! With the reduced involvment of another long term sponsor, we are still at the same funding level (roughly 216 hours sponsored by month).

The security tracker currently lists 32 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 37 packages needing an update.

Thanks to our sponsors

New sponsors are in bold.

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