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Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E23 – Twenty-Three Tales - Ubuntu Podcast

Planet Ubuntu - Pre, 17/08/2018 - 4:00md

We’ve been upgrading RAM and tooting in the fediverse. We discuss Hollywood embracing open source, a new release of LibreOffice, pacemakers getting hacked and fax machines becoming selfaware and taking over the planet. We also round up the community news and events.

It’s Season 11 Episode 23 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

In this week’s show:

That’s all for this week! You can listen to the Ubuntu Podcast back catalogue on YouTube. If there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss, or you have any feedback on previous shows, please send your comments and suggestions to show@ubuntupodcast.org or Tweet us or Comment on our Facebook page or comment on our Google+ page or comment on our sub-Reddit.

Valorie Zimmerman: Akademy: closing time

Planet Ubuntu - Pre, 17/08/2018 - 3:05md
Akademy is always a whirlwind which is my excuse for not blogging! Today we wrapped up the program which leaves us in a nearly-empty venue and a bit of time after lunch to catch up.
I did manage to gather photos together in Google Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/qHPwehW8C1zPGuav7
Thanks again to the KDE e.V. for sponsoring my hostel and the Ubuntu Community Fund for part of my travel expenses. This allowed me to attend. Meeting Popey from the Ubuntu community and the Limux team was great, although we didn't do as much Kubuntu work as in past years. However, attending the Distro BoF was a great experience; very friendly and collaborative.
As always, the talks were interesting, the "hall track" fascinating, BoFs engaging. The high point for me personally was being given an Akademy Award on Sunday after a blessedly-short e.V. meeting. I almost fainted from surprise! It feels wonderful to be not just appreciated but honored for my work for the KDE community. 
Thank you again!
I will update here with a photo when I can.
Yesterday and today were taken up with trainings, which while exhausting are extremely valuable. Along with the documentation work ahead, I look forward to integrating both the Non-Violent Communication and Tech Documentation trainings into my work.
In addition, I will be happy to see our documentation team re-group and gain strength over the next year as we work with the contractor on identifying pain points and fixing them.
I got lost yesterday, which one should always do in a strange city. Here is one of the beautiful windows I saw before finding the tram and a different way home:
Tomorrow we meet at 3:45 am to share an Uber to the airport and the beginning of the journey home. To KDE friends new and old: we'll meet next year at Akademy I hope, or at least in IRC.
Local friends and family, I'll see you soon!

Lubuntu Blog: Lubuntu Development Newsletter #9

Planet Ubuntu - Pre, 17/08/2018 - 3:53pd
This is the ninth issue of The Lubuntu Development Newsletter. You can read the last issue here. Changes General We’ve been polishing the desktop more, but work has been blocked by the still ongoing Qt transition. The 16.04 to 18.04 upgrade has now been enabled! Please do let us know if there’s any issues. Here’s […]

Andres Rodriguez: MAAS 2.4.1 released!

Planet Ubuntu - Mër, 15/08/2018 - 5:20md

Hello MAASTers

MAAS 2.4.1 has now been released and it is a bug fix release. Please see more details in discourse.maas.io [1].

[1]: https://discourse.maas.io/t/maas-2-4-1-released/148

Stephen Michael Kellat: When Things Become Bizarre

Planet Ubuntu - Mar, 14/08/2018 - 4:25pd

Welcome to August.

As you could see from my last post, there have been changes afoot. We're effectively in a state of freefall at my job right now. The normal progression of events would have me place on seasonal release otherwise known as furlough about now already. Due to a wide-ranging set of factors beyond my control, we barely know week-to-week what is going on. It is considered to be a bad economic situation to "live paycheck to paycheck" in US life but it is even worse when you have no idea about the status of your job week to week. Being unable to plan means I can't even pursue an off-season job or look for freelance work yet. My proficiency in LaTeX is improving, at least, as evidence by the maintenance of my main static website at http://erielookingproductions.info.

There have been some stressors at work. Our enterprise WAN almost collapsed outright last week. Due to legislative changes, we're having to fit in massive retraining with very little time available and no ability to totally down tools for such training. We have difficult days ahead potentially. If appropriations go haywire, none of this may matter. The countdown clock is running on what the Senate and House of Representatives may manage.

This also means I cannot travel to OggCamp. Essentially I have to stay within close range of my Post of Duty right now. Leave grants may be getting revoked soon. Getting shifted over to mandatory training status shortly makes that happen when the stakes are becoming as high as they are right now. Nobody has said this yet at work: "Failure Is Not An Option." With senior ranks in the chain of command coming to the Post of Duty in less than a week, we'll be learning how close things are to running aground. What makes me feel worse is that this was the year I specifically made provision to travel to England. Moving up the ranks at work means I can't escape responsible roles because I'm slowly becoming one of the persons others look up to because everybody else at my rank has either retired or left.

I have been working on an article. It has been a while since I pitched anywhere. I have to check the clock to see if it has run out on the pitch. Once upon a time I had been a working journalist in print. There are four days left on the clock before I try other options. With a link to an old effort from 2012 that brings back some memories, I offer some of the citations I'm working from to write the article:

Amatulli, Jenna. “Spotify Pulls Radio Show Episodes By InfoWars’ Alex Jones After Widespread Complaints.” Huffington Post, August 1, 2018, sec. Media. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/spotify-infowars-alex-jones_us_5b61c4d2e4b0b15aba9ec86e.

Badawy, Adam, Kristina Lerman, and Emilio Ferrara. “Who Falls for Online Political Manipulation?” ArXiv:1808.03281 [Physics], August 9, 2018. http://arxiv.org/abs/1808.03281.

Beschizza, Rob. “Tech Platforms Quit Alex Jones and InfoWars.” Boing Boing, August 6, 2018. https://boingboing.net/2018/08/06/tech-platforms-quit-alex-jones.html.

Brown, Elizabeth Nolan. “Senate Democrats Are Circulating Plans for Government Takeover of the Internet.” Reason.com, July 31, 2018. https://reason.com/blog/2018/07/31/democrats-tech-policy-plans-leaked.

Cellan-Jones, Rory. “Facebook, ITunes and Spotify Drop InfoWars.” BBC News, August 6, 2018, sec. Technology. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45083684.

Crowe, Jack. “Facebook Deletes Infowars Page, Apple Deletes All Alex Jones Podcasts.” National Review (blog), August 6, 2018. https://www.nationalreview.com/news/facebook-deletes-infowars-page-apple-deletes-all-alex-jones-podcasts/.

“Enforcing Our Community Standards | Facebook Newsroom.” Accessed August 6, 2018. https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/08/enforcing-our-community-standards/.

Gilmer, Marcus. “Facebook Deletes 4 Pages Belonging to Alex Jones and InfoWars.” Mashable, August 6, 2018. https://mashable.com/2018/08/06/facebook-bans-alex-jones-pages/.

Glaser, April. “Apple and Spotify Just Did to Alex Jones What Facebook Wouldn’t.” Slate Magazine, August 6, 2018. https://slate.com/technology/2018/08/apple-and-spotify-are-now-both-blocking-infowars-and-alex-jones-podcasts.html.

Gold, Ashley. “Facebook Removes 4 Pages Owned by InfoWars’ Alex Jones.” POLITICO, August 6, 2018. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/06/facebook-removes-infowars-pages-alex-jones-764590.

Gore, Leada. “Alex Jones Infowars: Facebook, Apple Remove Podcasts, Pages from Controversial Host.” AL.com, August 6, 2018. https://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2018/08/alex_jones_infowars_facebook_a.html.

Hern, Alex. “Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify Ban Infowars’ Alex Jones.” The Guardian, August 6, 2018, sec. Technology. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/aug/06/apple-removes-podcasts-infowars-alex-jones.

Hernandez. “The War Against InfoWars and Free Speech.” Victory Girls Blog (blog), August 6, 2018. http://victorygirlsblog.com/the-war-against-infowars-and-free-speech/.

Johnson, Bridget. “Homeland Security Officials: White Supremacist Extremists Skirting Social Media Bans.” Homeland Security (blog), August 7, 2018. https://pjmedia.com/homeland-security/homeland-security-officials-white-supremacist-extremists-skirting-social-media-bans/.

Kreps, Daniel. “Apple Removes Alex Jones, ‘Infowars’ Podcasts From Apps.” Rolling Stone (blog), August 6, 2018. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/apple-removes-alex-jones-infowars-podcasts-from-apps-706764/.

Legaspi, Althea. “Spotify Pulls Episodes of Infowars’ ‘Alex Jones Show’ Podcast.” Rolling Stone (blog), August 2, 2018. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/spotify-pulls-episodes-of-infowars-alex-jones-show-podcast-705812/.

McKay, Rich. “Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify Take down Alex Jones Content.” Reuters, August 6, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-infowars/apple-removes-most-of-u-s-conspiracy-theorists-podcasts-from-itunes-idUSKBN1KR0MZ.

Meza, Summer. “Facebook Finally Cracks down on Alex Jones and Infowars.” The Week, August 6, 2018. http://theweek.com/speedreads/788787/facebook-finally-cracks-down-alex-jones-infowars.

Morris, Chris. “Facebook Bans Several Pages From Alex Jones and Infowars.” Fortune, August 6, 2018. http://fortune.com/2018/08/06/facebook-bans-alex-jones-infowars-hate-speech/.

Neidig, Harper. “Facebook Deletes InfoWars Pages.” TheHill, August 6, 2018. http://thehill.com/policy/technology/400512-facebook-deletes-infowars-pages.

Paczkowski, John, and Charlie Warzel. “Apple Kicked Alex Jones Off Its Platform Then YouTube And Facebook Rushed To Do The Same.” BuzzFeed News, August 6, 2018. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/johnpaczkowski/apple-is-removing-alex-jones-and-infowars-podcasts-from.

Palladino, Valentina. “Alex Jones Hit with Bans from Facebook and Apple.” Ars Technica, August 6, 2018. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/08/alex-jones-hit-with-bans-from-facebook-and-apple/.

Russell, Jon. “Apple Has Removed Infowars Podcasts from ITunes.” TechCrunch (blog), August 6, 2018. http://social.techcrunch.com/2018/08/05/apple-has-removed-infowars-podcasts-from-itunes/.

Ryan, Jackson. “Apple Drops Alex Jones and Infowars from ITunes, Podcast App.” CNET, August 6, 2018. https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-has-dropped-alex-jones-and-infowars-from-itunes-podcasts/.

Simon, Roger L. “InfoWars and the Rise of the Tech Fascists.” Roger L. Simon (blog), August 6, 2018. https://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/infowars-and-the-rise-of-the-tech-fascists/.

Watson, Paul Joseph. “Facebook Bans Infowars. Permanently. Infowars Was Widely Credited with Playing a Key Role in Getting Trump Elected. This Is a Co-Ordinated Move Ahead of the Mid-Terms to Help Democrats. This Is Political Censorship.  This Is Culture War.Https://Www.Infowars.Com/Purged-Facebook-Permanently-Bans-Infowars-for-Hate-Speech/ ….” Tweet. @PrisonPlanet (blog), August 6, 2018. https://twitter.com/PrisonPlanet/status/1026433061469257733.

Yilek, Caitlin. “‘Survival of Our Democracy’ Depends on Banning Sites like InfoWars, Dem Senator Says.” Washington Examiner, August 7, 2018. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/survival-of-our-democracy-depends-on-banning-sites-like-infowars-democratic-senator-says.

David Tomaschik: I'm the One Who Doesn't Knock: Unlocking Doors From the Network

Planet Ubuntu - Pre, 10/08/2018 - 9:00pd

Today I’m giving a talk in the IoT Village at DEF CON 26. Though not a “main stage” talk, this is my first opportunity to speak at DEF CON. I’m really excited, especially with how much I enjoy IoT hacking. My talk was inspired by the research that lead to CVE-2017-17704, but it’s not meant to be a vendor-shaming session. It’s meant to be a discussion of the difficulty of getting physical access control systems that have IP communications features right. It’s meant to show that the designs we use to build a secure system when you have a classic user interface don’t work the same way in the IoT world.

(If you’re at DEF CON, come check it out at 4:45PM on Friday, August 10 in the IoT Village.)

The TL;DR of it is that encryption (particularly with a key hardcoded in the device firmware) does not guarantee authenticity and that an attacker can forge messages triggering behavior on the door access controller. What’s more interesting is to discuss how to fix this problem in product designs going forward.

Getting encryption right is hard at the best of times. Doing it in a way that allows reasonable management of the devices, with proper authentication of connection, when you have devices that may not have hostnames (or if they do, may be internal only hostnames), that don’t have classic user interfaces, that may fail and need to be replaced, is very hard.

It’s also worth noting that the amount we should care about security really does depend on the product involved. While I don’t deny that an RCE in a light bulb could become part of a botnet, authentication bypass in an access control system is pretty scary. It literally has one job: to deny unauthorized access. Having the ability to bypass it over the network is clearly impactful.

I hope my talk will inspire conversations about how to do network trust among networks of embedded & IoT devices. As security professionals, we haven’t offered the device developers the tools to bootstrap the trust relationships in the real world. Here’s to hoping that next year, I can be discussing a different type of bug.

Slides

PDF: I’m the One Who Doesn’t Knock: Unlocking Doors From the Network

Sergio Schvezov: Reporting Metrics Back to Ubuntu

Planet Ubuntu - Enj, 09/08/2018 - 1:22pd
A short lived ride After some time on Kubuntu on this new laptop, I just re-discovered that I did not want to live in the Plasma world anymore. While I do value all the work the team behind it does, the user interface is just not for me as it feels rather busy to my liking. In that aforementioned post I wrote about running the Ubuntu Report Tool on this system, it is not part of the Kubuntu install or first boot experience but you can install it by running apt install ubuntu-report followed by running ubuntu-report to actually create the report and if you want, send it too.

Stuart Langridge: If you can do it with CSS do it with CSS

Planet Ubuntu - Enj, 09/08/2018 - 1:19pd

I read Twitter with Tweetdeck. And I use the excellent Better Tweetdeck to improve my Tweetdeck experience. And I had an idea.

You see, emoji, much as they’re the way we communicate now, they’re actually quite hard to read. And Slack does this rather neat thing where if you respond to a message with an emoji, it displays that emoji bigger than normal text so you can see it clearly. And some people just write tweets which are, like, two emoji and that’s it, and it would be really handy if they were large enough to read.

So I thought, here’s an idea; how about, if there’s a tweet which is just emoji, then display those emoji larger so they’re easier to see? Only if there are, say, four or less; you don’t want those people who write a whole huge tweet as emoji to get enlarged. Just the ones where someone responds with two little pictures and that’s it; let’s make that nice and visible, like Slack does.

This is clearly a thing for Better Tweetdeck to do. (They already provide a config option to make emoji a little bigger, which I appreciate.) So… how do we do this?

Well, one obvious way is to do it with JavaScript. Every time we read a new tweet, look to see whether it contains nothing but emoji, and if it does and there are less than four of them, add inline styles to make them larger. Job done.

But… that’s not very efficient, is it? You have to do that every time a new tweet appears, in any column, and that happens a lot. What would actually be better is to write some CSS which does this, and add that CSS one time, when you load up, and then you’re done. Have the browser do the heavy lifting, not us. It is a principle with me that if you can do a thing with CSS, then you should do it with CSS. JavaScript is there for things that CSS can’t do. Don’t use JavaScript, which makes you do the work, when you can use CSS and make the browser do it instead. The browser is better than you at it.

So… what you want to do is this. In pure CSS, if there’s a tweet (which in Tweetdeck is a <p> element) which contains <img class="emoji"> and nothing else, and there are four or fewer of these img.emoji elements, then make those images larger.

In pure CSS. No JavaScript. This is harder than it looks. Go and try to work it out, if you don’t believe me.

Well, the key insight here is that if you are an element, and you are :last-child(X), and you are also last-of-type(X), then there can’t be any elements after you which are not the same as you. So, if an img.emoji is the first of its type, and also the first element, and it’s the third last of its type, and also the third last element, then we know that it is element 1 of three identical elements. So an img:nth-child(1) which is also an img:nth-of-type(1) and which is also an img:nth-last-of-type(3) and also an img:nth-last-child(3) must be the first <img> in a group of three <img> elements. So that solves our problem! All we need is a selector which matches an img which is:

  • img 1 in a group of 1 image, or
  • img 1 in a group of 2 images, or
  • img 2 in a group of 2 images, or
  • img 1 in a group of 3 images, or
  • img 2 in a group of 3 images, or
  • img 3 in a group of 3 images, or
  • img 1 in a group of 4 images, or
  • …etc

…and that’s pretty easy, although long, to express as a CSS selector. So, to resize all img.emoji elements where (a) there are only img.emoji elements in this tweet and no text, and (b) there are four or fewer img.emoji in the tweet, we need a selector like this:

p > .emoji:nth-child(1):nth-of-type(1):nth-last-child(1):nth-last-of-type(1), /* 1 of 1 */ p > .emoji:nth-child(1):nth-of-type(1):nth-last-child(2):nth-last-of-type(2), /* 1 of 2 */ p > .emoji:nth-child(2):nth-of-type(2):nth-last-child(1):nth-last-of-type(1), /* 2 of 2 */ p > .emoji:nth-child(1):nth-of-type(1):nth-last-child(3):nth-last-of-type(3), /* 1 of 3 */ p > .emoji:nth-child(2):nth-of-type(2):nth-last-child(2):nth-last-of-type(2), /* 2 of 3 */ p > .emoji:nth-child(3):nth-of-type(3):nth-last-child(1):nth-last-of-type(1), /* 3 of 3 */ p > .emoji:nth-child(1):nth-of-type(1):nth-last-child(4):nth-last-of-type(4), /* 1 of 4 */ p > .emoji:nth-child(2):nth-of-type(2):nth-last-child(3):nth-last-of-type(3), /* 2 of 4 */ p > .emoji:nth-child(3):nth-of-type(3):nth-last-child(2):nth-last-of-type(2), /* 3 of 4 */ p > .emoji:nth-child(4):nth-of-type(4):nth-last-child(1):nth-last-of-type(1) {/* 4 of 4 */ styles here }

It looks long and cryptic and mystic, but actually it’s not that complicated at all. And, importantly, this is all the work you have to do. Add that CSS, and then any new tweets that come along which match our criteria get automatically styled to match. You don’t have to inspect every tweet and tweak it. The browser does the work, which is what the browser is designed for. If you can do a thing with CSS, then do it with CSS. Job done.

I’m quite proud of this. There’s an increasing, and depressing, movement to add more JavaScript to web pages, to write more code client side, to deal with huge JS downloads by improving compression rather than by just doing less JavaScript. I, myself, I’m in favour of having CSS do the things it can do, even if you have to be creative to solve that problem. Falling back to JavaScript to do styling is a failure. Use CSS where you can; being clever in how you do that CSS is part of the fun. You don’t need JS for this, really you don’t. CSS actually is awesome.

My pull request at Better Tweetdeck is, at time of writing, still pending. Proof that this technique works is in jsbin. Fingers crossed my PR gets accepted, and we can solve another problem with pure CSS.

Purity is great. And if you’re thinking, CSS can’t solve real problems… check out Bence Szabó‘s amazing pure CSS stacking game. I was open mouthed with awe. If you aren’t, maybe you should spend some time going back over how the web works, and then you will be too.

Valorie Zimmerman: Ade visits, and the weather changes so we can walk about Deventer

Planet Ubuntu - Mër, 08/08/2018 - 6:00md
A lovely lunch and a shared afternoon and evening with Ade was a pleasant interlude in our time together here in beautiful Deventer. We changed tables a few times to avoid the sun! Last night we were wakened at around 2am with wind blowing rain into the open windows, which was quite exciting. Thunder roared in the south. It was still quite cool and breezy this morning so we ate inside.




After lunch, Boud proposed a walk around the town while the temperatures were moderate. We walked over much of the old town of Deventer, and spend some time in the Roman Catholic church, the old church on the "hill" with twin spires, the old Brush Shop, and back past the Weighing House and a lovely cast bronze map of Deventer.

Our favorite tree:


The Roman Catholic church whose steeple we see from the terrace:
On the wall of the Weighing House:


Our little corner of Deventer:

Tomorrow we travel by fast train to Vienna! I hope there is time to drink a cup of coffee. :-)

Sean Davis: Mugshot 0.4.1 Released

Planet Ubuntu - Mër, 08/08/2018 - 12:04md

Mugshot 0.4.1, the latest release of the lightweight user profile editor, is now available! This release includes a number of bug fixes and will now run in the most minimal of environments.

What’s New? Code Quality Improvements
  • Replaced deprecated logger.warn with logger.warning (Python 2.x)
  • Replaced deprecated module optparse with argparse (Python 2.7)
  • Resolved Pylint and PEP8 errors and warnings
Bug Fixes
  • TypeError in _spawn(): The argument, args, must be a list (LP: #1443283)
  • User-specified initials are not correctly loaded (LP: #1574239)
  • Include Mugshot in Xfce Settings, Personal Settings (LP: #1698626)
  • Support -p and -w office phone flags in chfn. This flag varies between chfn releases. (LP: #1699285)
  • FileNotFoundError when comparing profile images (LP: #1771629)
Support for Minimal Chroot Environments
  • Fix crash when run without AccountsService
  • Handle OSError: out of pty devices
  • Specify utf-8 codec for desktop file processing when building
Translation Updates

Catalan, Chinese (Simplified), Danish, Lithuanian, Spanish

Downloads

Source tarball (md5sig)

Benjamin Mako Hill: Lookalikes

Planet Ubuntu - Mar, 07/08/2018 - 11:00md

Am I leading a double life as an actor in several critically acclaimed television series?

I ask because I was recently accused of being Paul Sparks—the actor who played gangster Mickey Doyle on Boardwalk Empire and writer Thomas Yates in the Netflix version of House of Cards. My accuser reacted to my protestations with incredulity. Confronted with the evidence, I’m a little incredulous myself.

Previous lookalikes are here.

Lubuntu Blog: This Week in Lubuntu Development #8

Planet Ubuntu - Mar, 07/08/2018 - 12:09pd
Here is the eighth issue of This Week in Lubuntu Development. You can read the last issue here. Translated into: español Changes General Lubuntu 18.04.1 has been released! Lubuntu 16.04.5 has been released! We’re taking a new direction. The past couple of weeks have been focused on more desktop polish and some heavy infrastructure and […]

Sam Hewitt: Moving Beyond Themes

Planet Ubuntu - Dje, 05/08/2018 - 5:00md

FreeDesktop platforms have come a long way in terms of usability and as we strive to make them better platforms for application developers, I think it’s time to shed one more shackle that slows that down: themes.

Now, coming from me that view may be a surprise (because of all those themes that I call personal projects) but I do feel it’s necessary mainly because the level of visual customisation that is being done at the distribution level has led to widespread visual fragmentation which impacts both user- and developer-friendliness.

Letting the Past Go

What themes used to be were sets of preset or configuration files that would only tweak the details of the user interface such as the window borders or how buttons and scrollbars looked but the overall layout and function stayed the same.

But user interfaces of the past were much simpler, there were fewer window states, fewer points of interaction, less visual feedback, and just plain fewer pixels. These limitations in old toolkits meant that they largely stayed the same from theme to theme and things were relatively stable.

Fast-forward to today where we have modern toolkits like GTK+ 3 with more complex visuals and detailed interactions means that without the same level of quality control that you find at the toolkit level, maintaining a separate theme is a very fiddly and potentially buggy prospect. Not to mention getting all the details right matters for both usability and accessibility.

“Look and Feel” as a Toolkit Component

It’s unfortunate that “Adwaita” is thought of as a theme when in fact it is a core component of the toolkit, but this is mostly a holdover from how we’re used to thinking about look and feel as it relates to the user interface. Adwaita is as closely tied to GTK+ as Aqua is to the macOS user interface, and as a result it has broad implications applications built with GTK+.

The reality is that GTK+ 3 has no theme framework (there is no API or documentation for “themes”) and “Adwaita” is simply the name of the stylesheet deeply integrated in GTK+. So when third-party developers build GNOME apps, they rely on this stylesheet when determining the look and feel of their apps and, if necessary, use it as a reference when writing their own custom stylesheets (since it is a core toolkit component).

Today’s themes aren’t themes

GTK+ 3 themes are not themes in the traditional sense. They are not packages of presets designed to work with the user interface toolkit, they are more like custom stylesheets which exist outside of the application-UI framework and only work by essentially overriding the toolkit-level stylesheet (and quite often only the toolkit-level stylesheet).

When GTK+ 3 applications are being used under third-party themes, what is being broken is the boundary an application developer has set up to control both the quality of their application and how it looks and feels and this becomes really problematic when applications have custom CSS.

In order for third party themes to work properly and not cause cascading visual bugs, they have to either become monolithic and start incorporating all the custom stylesheets for all the applications that have them, or work with application developers to include stylesheets in their applications that support their themes. Neither of these solutions are good for platform or application development since it will become a task of never-ending maintenance.

Visual Fragmentation

Across the GNOME desktop ecosystem exists “visual fragmentation” and it’s a very real problem for app developers. Since very few distributions ship GNOME as-is, it is hard to determine what the visual identity of GNOME is and therefore it’s difficult to know which visual system to build your application for.

Integrating the stylesheet with the user interface toolkit, in theory, should have solved many issues regarding visual inconsistency across the GNOME platform, but that’s an unsolveable problem so long as themes persist.

The biggest offenders continue to be downstream projects that theme GNOME extensively by overriding the default icons and stylesheet, and insist that that’s part of their own brand identity, but so long as that practice carries on then this fragmentation will continue.

Upstream vs. Downstream Identity

It is extremely rare for a Linux distribution to also be the platform vendor, so it can be said that nearly all distros that ship a desktop platform (like GNOME) are “downstream” vendors.

Platforms like GNOME and KDE exist irrespective of distributions and they have their own visual and brand identities, and own guidelines around the user interface. On the other hand, distribution vendors see a need to have unique identities and some decide to extend that to the look and feel of the desktop and apply themes.

But this practice raises questions about whether it is right or not for distributions to cut out or override the upstream platform vendor’s identity to favour their own. Should distributions that ship GNOME be asked to leave the default look and feel and experience intact? I think yes.

A similar situation exists on Android where Google is trying to control the look and feel of Android and hardware OEMs all over the place are skinning it for their phones, but the blame for issues gets conflated with issues in Android (unless you do some monumental branding effort and effectively erase Android, like Samsung)

Distributions owe a lot to the desktop platforms, as such I think that effort should be made to respect the platform’s intended experience. Not to mention, the same concerns for quality assurance regarding applications also applies to the platform, GNOME developers lose out when then forced to dedicate time and resources to dealing with bugs related to issues created by downstream theming and deviations.

The Future

If ending the wild west of visual customisation (which would probably end all of those projects of mine) on GNOME is necessary to grow the ecosystem, so be it.

I would rather see GNOME evolve as a platform and become a little less developer-hostile by dropping support for third-party themes, than stagnate. Doing so would also bring us in line with the how the major (successful) platforms maintain a consistent look and feel and consider app developers’ control over their apps and their rights to their brand identities.

That said, I doubt such a hardline position will be widely warmly recieved, but I would like to see a more closed approach to look and feel. Though, perhaps actually building some sort of framework that allows for custom stylesheets (so that downstreams can have their unique visual identities) that doesn’t involve totally overriding the one at the toolkit level would be the best solution.

Ubuntu Studio: Ubuntu Studio 18.10 Wallpaper Contest

Planet Ubuntu - Mër, 01/08/2018 - 6:18md
As we begin getting closer to the next release date of Ubuntu Studio 18.10, now is a great time to show what the best of the Ubuntu Studio Community has to offer! We know that many of our users are graphic artists and photographers and we would like to see their/your talent also reflected more […]

Sean Davis: Xubuntu Development Update August 2018

Planet Ubuntu - Mër, 01/08/2018 - 1:56md

July was an surprisingly productive month for Xubuntu. While several folks in the team were on vacation for some portion of the month, we still managed to deliver a number of great updates!

LTS Updates Xenial Xerus – 16.04.5

This is the final point release for Xubuntu 16.04 “Xenial Xerus”. As Xubuntu has a 3-year support cycle, this release will be supported until April 2019. There have not been any major changes from the Xubuntu team for this point release, but there have been a number of other improvements and security updates for other components.

16.04.5 is expected to be released tomorrow, August 2, 2018. If you have a few moments, feel free to do some testing and make sure everything is working as well as we think it is!

Bionic Beaver – 18.04.1

This is the first point release for Xubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver”. At this time, users of Xubuntu 16.04 should begin receiving notifications to upgrade to this release. There have been a few updates from the Xubuntu team, and others are still on their way. Download 18.04.1 here.

Application Updates Catfish 1.4.6

The latest release of Catfish features a greatly improved thumbnail manager and numerous bug fixes. With 23 translation updates, this is the most localized release to date! Finally, Catfish 1.4.6 is the first release as an official Xfce project. Check out my earlier blog post for more details.

Xfce4 Panel Profiles 1.0.8

Formerly known as Xfpanel Switch, Xfce4 Panel Profiles has joined the Xfce family. This application makes it incredibly easy to backup, restore, and share panel layouts with other Xfce users. The latest release improves profile management and includes a number of translations. Find out more about the latest updates on the release announcement.

Xfce Releases

There were 7 new Xfce releases in July, including the two applications listed just above. These releases feature a number of improvements and translation updates, with Xfwm4 4.13.1 featuring an astounding 81 non-translation updates!

Cosmic Cuttlefish Updates

The following components have been updated in Xubuntu 18.10 since July 1st.

Applications Libraries Panel Plugins Thunar Plugins Other Updates What to Expect in August?

With the summer months coming to a close, kids are back in school and everybody is back in front of their computers. This means more updates! Here are some things expected soon:

  • Updated packaging for the elementary-xfce icon theme. Work on separating this theme from xubuntu-artwork has already been completed. We are now just waiting for some sponsored uploads. The benefit of this change is that the elementary-xfce icon theme is now available in Debian!
  • Xfce Settings 4.13.5. There have been some improvements to the settings managers that we’ll be releasing soon. One improvement is the removal of the broken icon theme color generation. This worked great with GTK+ 2 themes, but has been pretty broken for GTK+ 3. With this removal, Appearance Settings now loads instantly!
  • I’ll be taking a look at the Pidgin codebase this month, hoping to improve the theme manager to support system-wide status icon and smiley theme installation. This will make it possible for us to ship the pidgin-elementary themes and further improve our desktop consistency.
  • There have been a few bugs reported with Thunar in Xubuntu 16.04 in regard to copying and moving files. I’ll be working to update the Thunar version in Xenial to fix these bugs and help folks transition to the latest and great Xubuntu 18.04. (LP: #1514912)

Keep up with the latest Xubuntu developments on our development tracker. Have a great month!

Sergio Schvezov: Snapcraft Build Environments

Planet Ubuntu - Hën, 30/07/2018 - 10:47md
Prologue After a week away from my computer I want to organize my thoughts on the progress made towards build VMs by providing this write up since that forum post can be a bit overwhelming if you are casually wanting to keep up to date. The reasons for this feature work to exist, for those not up to speed, is that we want to have a very consistent build environment for which anyone building a project can have an expectable outcome of a working snap (or non working one if it really doesn’t).

Benjamin Kerensa: Remembering Gerv Markham

Planet Ubuntu - Dje, 29/07/2018 - 12:44pd
Gervase Markham (cc by sa didytile)

Gerv Markham, a friend and mentor to many in the Mozilla community, passed away last night surrounded by his family.

 

Gerv worked at Mozilla for many years working in a variety of capacities including being a lead developer of Bugzilla and most recently working on special projects under the Mozilla Chairwoman.

 

I had the pleasure of working with Gerv in the Thunderbird community and most recently on the MOSS Grants Committee as one of the inaugural members. Between these two areas, I often sought Gerv’s mentoring and advice, as he always had wisdom to share.

 

Anyone who has been intimately involved with the Mozilla project likely engaged Gerv from time to time, although much of his work was behind the scenes but nonetheless important work.

 

I think it goes without saying Gerv had a significant impact on the open web through his contributions to Bugzilla and various projects that moved the open web forward and he championed the values of the Mozilla manifesto. All of us who knew him and got the opportunity to collaborate were rewarded with a good friend and valuable wisdom that will be missed.

 

Thanks Gerv for being a friend of Mozilla and the open web and you will be surely missed.

Sebastian K&uuml;gler: Lunar Eclipse Blood Moon

Planet Ubuntu - Sht, 28/07/2018 - 12:04pd

Blood Moon of July 2018
Tonight, I spent some time on the balkony with my SLR, a glass of Shiraz and the most significant lunar eclipse of the century.

Sam Hewitt: Adorbs for Telegram!

Planet Ubuntu - Pre, 27/07/2018 - 6:00md
Stickers are just glorified icons right??

Adorbs used to be an iMessage sticker pack that I maintained, but I let my Apple developer account lapse, so I made them into a Telegram sticker pack! Available now!

Download for Telegram

Xubuntu: 18.04.1 Released

Planet Ubuntu - Enj, 26/07/2018 - 9:35md

The first point release for 18.04 Bionic Beaver has now been released.

As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

The point release images are available as torrents immediately from the links below.

64-bit systems32-bit systems

The images are also available as direct downloads from xubuntu.org/getxubuntu/. As the main server and mirrors might be busy for the first few days after the release, we recommend using the torrents if possible.

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