Older blog entries for slef (starting at number 892)

Upgrading to Debian 7 wheezy

So I have upgraded my main workstation at last, but there are a few things I wanted to figure out. Some of these I found an answer to, but others I haven’t and some answers open more questions:

Where did debian-menu.menu go and why doesn’t lxlauncher have the Debian menu by default anyway? Answer: It seems this is a combination of debian bug 333848 and bug 722563 which I reported yesterday in that lxlauncher doesn’t use the debian menus. Workaround for now: install menu-xdg and hack the lxlauncher menu file.

Why don’t my xterm shells load .profile any more? Did I bodge that before without making a note?

How do I stop kernel or initrd or whatever it is configuring the network with the dhcp settings at boot time instead of the better wicd ones that are available once the system is up?

Continuing with networking, how did network-manager (which doesn’t cope with my network configuration) get installed again? Answer: debian bug 645656 explains that debian is simply following a silly decision taken upstream and refers to attempts to make network-manager optional as “the Crusade”. Workaround: remove gnome and install its dependencies like gnome-core directly instead. Drawback: any new dependencies of gnome will have to be installed manually.

Why is the audio capture volume at 10% by default and what’s the best way to change that? I suspect this might be 682731 but that bug is untouched in over a year. I’m tempted to remove pulseaudio, but “gnome-core Depends pulseaudio” so this is yet more hardware-breaking caused by gnome dependency changes and the only way out of this one would be to remove gnome-core and install its dependencies. Or maybe I should just give up and finally remove gnome because its packages have jumped the shark. I installed gnome to make the system easier to use and it’s broken it in at least two ways now.

One question that makes me hesitate is: why is gdm3 faster to start than lightdm?

Syndicated 2013-09-13 04:10:12 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Misusing a Royal Baby and Child Porn to Censor The Internet

There’s been some media coverage at the start of this week about blocking child porn. Except it’s not about child porn – that’s a trojan horse. People who want to access pornography that is already illegal (Protection of Children Act 1978) are probably already using security tools to hide their downloading and will be unaffected by this unless they’re pretty stupid.

And the announcement, about the same time as the predicted birth of a royal baby, third in line to the throne, seems like a cynical attempt to bury bad news taken straight from the Blair Government. That would almost be enough reason to oppose it: they don’t want the media to look at this too closely for some reason.

So what’s this actually about? It looks like a way to force through widespread acceptance of the ability to censor most UK internet users by shouting “won’t somebody think of the children?” If you doubt it, take a look at the list of filtered topics:

  • Dating
  • Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco
  • File Sharing Sites
  • Gambling
  • Games
  • Pornography
  • Social Networking
  • Suicide and Self-Harm
  • Weapons and Violence

So if they get away with this censorship, you won’t be able to use Twitter or contact the Samaritans until you deactivate it. Except I suspect you will because they’re pretty big and the Cameron Government won’t want to pick a fight with them: it’ll be the next Twitter and the next Samaritans, currently much smaller and unable to defend themselves, who get shut out of UK homes.

So what can we do, besides explaining this and writing to our MPs? Are we better off joining parties who oppose this censorship, like the Pirate Party, or joining existing parties and trying to overturn their stupid support for it?

Syndicated 2013-07-23 04:20:07 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Cooperatives Fortnight 2013

[Co-operatives Fortnight image]

Cooperatives Fortnight 2013 starts tomorrow. Our co-op is taking part in a few activities this year. Come along and meet us, or find other events on the national website.

This Sunday, I’ll be riding 50 miles in support of Leonard Cheshire. Some of it is familiar roads, some of it new. I’ll also be riding 12 miles just to get to the start line. If you’re a UK resident and would like to guess my time and make a small donation, please give it a try on guess2give.

Next Thursday 27 June, I’ll be at Somerset Cooperative Services AGM in Taunton. See their site for further news.

There might be something on Monday 1 July. To be announced later maybe.

On Thursday 4July, mjkaye will be at Building Our Co-ops in Liverpool. See the national event listing for details.

So… what will you be doing for co-ops fortnight?

Syndicated 2013-06-21 09:34:08 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

What’s the current state of Windows Anti-Virus?

One of our co-op’s clients asked me what I use for anti-virus at the moment and tips for what they should use on their Windows system.

Well, flame me now, but I don’t actually use any anti-virus at the moment: I rely on system security, firewalling and intrusion detection. The diversity of GNU/Linux software – and I use some pretty odd stuff – probably helps too. Even if I did want to run antivirus software, most of what’s available for GNU is actually aimed at detecting and preventing transmission of Windows viruses. There are few real-world GNU viruses and fewer attack opportunities left open.

Also, I prefer firewalling and fairly paranoid security settings because, like an antibiotic, an antivirus is only effective once the virus is already on your system somehow – hopefully held in quarantine by the browser or email client and not actively malignant in the processor.

There’s quite a list at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_antivirus_software#Microsoft_Windows but I expect most of the purchase-free proprietary ones (labelled as “Free” or “Freemium” but you usually pay by watching adverts) will try to sell you upgrades, as that’s how their production is funded. If you don’t mind doing such things, you can disable the ads in at least one of them

The only very free ones I found were Immunet (also funded by upgrades – not sure if it’s actually Free and Open Source Software) and ClamWin (donation-funded) which both use the same scanning engine. If I had to use Microsoft Windows, I think I’d probably use and donate to ClamWin, install the (altruism-funded I think) Clam Sentinel alongside it and be rather cautious about what I downloaded or used online. I’m a bit worried that it doesn’t do great in reviews, though. What do/would you do?

I don’t really know about paying for security. The only paid product I’ve really seen has been Norton and that seemed no better than the ad-funded ones, still getting in the way and always trying to sell upgrades. It also irks me that there’s this huge market just to fix fundamental defects in Microsoft’s product. There’s a Microsoft Security Essentials add-on listed on Wikipedia, but it does fairly badly in this PC Magazine review – and do any of them do intrusion detection?

And finally, if you do decide to download something new, I strongly suggest getting it from a trusted source and/or triple-checking the link with wikipedia, a magazine review like CNET and a search engine. Don’t just trust a search engine, because fake antivirus software is a big way of getting viruses and worse onto computers: there’s even one calling itself “Microsoft Security Essentials 2011″!

Syndicated 2013-06-20 04:01:33 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Wireless Networking on this Clevo

This Clevo laptop is a new machine and like a lot of new machines, not all of its hardware has drivers in the current stable release of debian.

Happily, there is a driver for its rtl8723ae wireless networking device in the later 3.8 Linux kernel versions. So it’s just a case of installing the package called “kernel-package” and following the instructions in it, to make a new linux-image package with the latest drivers in it.

One small thing which tripped me up is that you usually need to write “make-kpkg –rootcmd fakeroot –initrd kernel-image” now. I forgot the “–initrd” option at first.

Syndicated 2013-03-22 04:20:00 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Debian Project Leader 2013 election campaign links: part 1

This is basically a link-post to the Debian Project Leader email discussions on GMANE’s blog-style interface to debian-vote. After only 3 days of the 21, there’s already a pageful, so if I don’t start collecting links now, I’ll probably miss some. Right or wrong, I’ve grouped these into three topics:

The Job

  1. Why do you think you are a good candidate for DPL (10 Mar 2013)
  2. How do you plan to represent Debian externally? (10 Mar 2013)
  3. about a DPL board (12 Mar 2013)
  4. DPL term duration (12 Mar 2013)
  5. Work balance and traveling (12 Mar 2013)
  6. trying to do awesome and risking to fail (11 Mar 2013)
  7. To Lucas: how do you plan to push your ideas (12 Mar 2013)
  8. All candidates – quotes for the press if you win (13 Mar 2013)

Money

  1. using debian funds for Debian’s hardware infrastru (12 Mar 2013)
  2. Usage of Debian’s Money (12 Mar 2013)
  3. Debian’s relationship with money and the economy (12 Mar 2013)

Project Management

  1. getting new people to Debian (10 Mar 2013)
  2. Free Software challenges and Debian role (11 Mar 2013)
  3. Development and technical issues and challenges (10 Mar 2013)
  4. Are there problematic infrastructure or processes in Debian? (12 Mar 2013)
  5. to Moray: encourage teams to take interns (11 Mar 2013)

So, what do you think are the key points or differences? Leave me a comment, or get involved in the discussions. Campaigning ends and voting begins 30/31 March.

Syndicated 2013-03-15 04:23:15 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

In Praise of Consensus

The constitution of the debian operating system project says things like “consistent with the consensus of the opinions of the Developers” at various points but doesn’t say how strong a consensus or how the project will test for consensus. I think those were mistakes, breaking a couple of the conditions for consensus.

Wikipedia’s understanding of consensus is even worse. Wikipedia seems to treat consensus as a synonym for unanimity. Its testing methods allow an infinite loop to form where the casual observer can’t differentiate between a controversial proposal and consensus. I think those were mistakes.

These famous-but-imperfect implementations frequently lead to misdirected rants which seem to misunderstand consensus as requiring perpetual bikeshedding. Apache’s implementation is rather better – and it may surprise you to learn that our co-op is mostly run by consensus.

There are two key differences which I feel makes consensus work for us: we’ve set limits beforehand on some decisions where we need to act fast – where not making a decision would usually be the same as making a bad decision – and our methods of testing for consensus are better. We test for consensus with secret-at-vote-time-but-published-after straw polls, or using Crowd Wise by email.

I summarise Crowd Wise as follows: gather all ideas plus option 0 (do nothing) if possible, carry out a de Borda (preference) voting round 1, merge/amend/consolidate ideas, voting round 2 if needed. It does still work better if participants put their ego aside a little and co-operate, but it does put limits on non-co-operators.

Anyway, as described in Xana/ xana2/ bamamba/ Why Russ is wrong, debian isn’t exactly using consensus much at the moment, anyway. Should we try to fix its bugs? Do you know other projects where consensus is working?

Syndicated 2013-02-21 04:02:37 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

Clevo 7872-9040/A built Jan 13 with Debian 6

My trusty Asus seems to have succumbed to graphic fault. I got an OS-free Zoostorm as its replacement, to avoid paying the MS tax. Zoostorm is one brand that Clevo laptops are sold under.

It was actually a Clevo 7872-9040/A built Jan 13. I installed Debian 6 on it. The download button was easy to spot on the front page, but I actually used mini.iso so I could use a smaller usb stick. The first larger stick I tried was a dud and I’m not sure where other sticks went in the move.

The base installation went fine and most things went well, but the wireless networking and sound required an upgrade, but more on that next tech post.

Syndicated 2013-02-08 04:45:00 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

One of them, one of us

Interesting stuff is happening again and I’m doing a bit of travelling where I’m not driving much, so I can write some blog posts. If this train stops bouncing quite so much!

I think most readers are interested in technology and collaborative work, so it makes sense to alternate those two themes most of the time. So that’s what I’ll aim for, probably a few posts each week for the next few weeks.

Let me know in the comments or our co-op’s contract form if there’s anything in particular you’d like us to cover, else I’ll start with my recent experiences installing Debian 6 on a new laptop and the fun of running a business at tax return time.

Syndicated 2013-02-07 04:35:00 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

We Have Moved! Again!

With immediate effect, our co-op is now at:

384 Lynn Road, Setchey, Norfolk PE33 0PD

Please send any official post there instead of Somerset or London, because the forwarding is slow and I expect it to miss a few items.

Our telephone numbers and email addresses remain the same, of course. It’s still best to use the contact form on our website.

Syndicated 2012-12-11 12:06:15 from Software Cooperative News » mjr

883 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!