Episode #19

Direct download links: MP3 & Ogg

News

Google I/O 2014 Keynote Highlights
REVEALED: Google’s proposed indie music-killing contract terms
Google Domains
Google Invests $50 Million to Close the Tech Gender Gap
Flashing Back to 2004 As Orkut Fades Away a Decade Later
Google terminates Quickoffice apps on Android, iOS

Google’s BoringSSL Latest OpenSSL Fork to Surface
OpenSSL speeds up development to avoid being “slow-moving and insular”

The NSA thinks Linux Journal is an “extremist forum”?
NSA targets the privacy-conscious
IRS policy that targeted political groups also aimed at open source projects

In Road To Qt, Audacious Switches From GTK3 Back To GTK2

elementary OS Isis is now Freya
“Won’t Freya be free?” – The cost of software

Time for the emperors-in-waiting who run Facebook to just admit they’re evil
Facebook Added ‘Research’ To User Agreement 4 Months After Emotion Manipulation Study
British and European data cops probe Facebook user-manipulation scandal
EPIC says Facebook ‘messed with people’s minds,’ seeks FTC sanctions
CEO of European publishing giant accuses Google of downgrading rivals’ search results

Mint 17 KDE and Xfce released

Seen Elsewhere

Police Story: Hacking Team’s Government Surveillance Malware

What’s Next For Fedora?
Where KDE is going – Part 1, Part 2

First Impressions

Paddy took a look at Frugalware, and next time Joe will be checking out StartOS.

Feedback

A huge thank you to Jake Lauritzen for his PayPal donation, and to Kevie and an anonymous donor for their Flattrs. Peter Kidd became our first Monthly Supporter – it really is much appreciated.

Check out the links in the sidebar for all the ways you can support the show. And if you enjoy what we do, tell somebody else about it!

Martin Wimpress and Alan Pope both left comments BTL to follow up on our words about Ubuntu MATE Remix last show. Martin let us know that the website at ubuntu-mate.org now has some content for people interested in the project, and an ISO of their first Alpha – based on Ubuntu 14.10 – is also available on the site.

Thanks to Scott Dowdle and Steven Rosenberg for leaving comments relating to Fedora.next.

SonOfNed pointed out that Ken Thompson and Rob Pike developed the Go programming language at least in part to address some of the shortcomings in C (and C++) that we’ve periodically discussed on the show.

Both Krayon and Will are happy users of Pentadactyl, a Firefox add-on that seems to offer a lot of functionality, especially for keyboard warriors.

Nathan D. Smith suggested Paddy take a look at the Rails-based Feedbin project, and Arold asked if Paddy had considered using an RSS feed reader from a shell.

Jens Klün and kalei wrote in regarding the effects of the Snowden revelations, and Cae suggested a potentially audience-shredding tactic for increasing PGP adoption. In the ensuing commentary, Paddy briefly mentioned miniLock.

Randal L. Schwartz

Legendary Perl hacker and host of FLOSS Weekly, Randal Schwartz, joined us for a chat. Randal has a number of books to his name, and was the original co-author (along with Larry Wall, the creator of Perl) of the definitive Programming Perl. Randal runs a Perl consulting and training business, and you can also find him on Twitter and Google+. A huge thank you to Randal for taking the time to speak with us, despite his jet-lag.

Deepin 2014RC

We took a long, hard look at the Release Candidate for Deepin 2014, and found much to like. If you’ve never thought about trying a Chinese distro, this one could well come as a very pleasant surprise.

Update: the final version of Deepin 2014 was released the day after our recording. Changes from the RC which we looked at include the replacement of Kingsoft Office with the more familiar Libre Office suite, and the complete removal of Google Play Music. It also now correctly recognises Paddy’s Vista partition.

The question of ‘trust’ raised its head a few times during our review. We’ll come back to this topic in an Over a Pint segment in a couple of shows’ time; if you have any thoughts on how much we can really trust any software, or even our hardware, do drop us a line or leave a comment below, and we’ll include your thoughts in that upcoming discussion.


Linux LudditesAs ever, we’d welcome your feedback about the show either here on our website, via a mail to show@, or on Twitter @linuxluddites.

Thanks for listening.

19 comments

  1. Martin Wimpress

    Hi,

    Just following up on your query about how MATE is intending to support GTK3.x. We are adding support for GTK3.x but will continue to fully support GTK2.x, it is a build time configure option as to which toolkit you build against. It will therefore be a matter for your distro package maintainer to decide if they only support one of the available toolkits or both. On Arch Linux I will be supporting both.

    This is typical of the MATE team. For example we support both ConsoleKit and systemd/logind. We are not forcing anyone down a particular path. MATE is inclusive.

    Thanks for your kind words about Ubuntu MATE Remix.

    Regards, Martin.

  2. Rob Landley

    Half the webcomics I follow use “patreon”, a crowdfunding website aimed at recurring donations. The most successful ones (of the webcomics I follow) are http://www.patreon.com/jephjacques and http://www.patreon.com/zachweinersmith , the most recently launched is http://www.patreon.com/egscomics and some smaller examples are http://www.patreon.com/CarlSjostrand and http://www.patreon.com/jinwicked

    It seems to have become the dominant site for recurring patronage.

  3. Rob Landley

    Maybe I’m biased, but Go is to C what Plan 9 was to Unix. Now that we’ve got rust and swift diluting its impact, it seems even less interesting. (C++ at least had Microsoft’s favorite standards undermining technique, “embrace and extend”, going for it.)

    I was big into both OS/2 and Java in the 90’s, as “the new thing fighting to displace the existing dominant thing”, and it was a learning experience. It’s hard enough for us to replace gcc with llvm, both of which take input and produce output covered by multiple overlapping standards documents. Our best candidates to displace things like Word and Exchange are all clones with approximately the same UI which read and write a scrupulously compatible data format. Chromium was a drop in replacement for Firefox (which itself tried to be a drop-in replacement for netscape and explorer) combined with Google’s market share leveraged to bother you to install it every visit, and netapp still puts explorer at 48% market share:

    http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/07/windows-8-x-internet-explorer-both-flatline-in-june/

    BASIC went away when 8-bit computers did, wordstar never quite made the jump from text mode to GUIs, and Linux on the Desktop can stop trying to kick Lucy’s football into the kite-eating tree when ARM smartphones displace x86 desktops.

    The switch to SMP could have done something to C, but 9 years on we can safely say it didn’t. If quantum computers stop being a perpetually “coming soon” thing like ISDN or magneto-optical disks, they may need a new language. But as long as we’re on Von Neumann architecture, C remains a pretty good fit.

    Note: preview button would be nice.

  4. Steven Rosenberg

    Great show, Joe and Paddy,

    The interviews have been great, including this episode’s with Randal Schwartz.

    Now that you’ve had Randal on, maybe you two could talk about your opinion on scripting languages — the Joe-and-Paddy take on Perl vs. Python vs. Ruby (and maybe vs. server-side Javascript, too)?

    Any of those (Javascript excepted), should appeal to the Luddite within (Perl moreso because it’s the oldest).

    Most of my scripting these days is in Bash because it’s the easiest for me. I’ve been working on Perl but am considering switching to either Python or Ruby. What do you think?

  5. Steven Rosenberg

    Regarding Fedora.Next, I downloaded the daily build of Fedora Workstation yesterday, and it looked exactly like a normal Fedora system with stock GNOME 3.

    If anybody wants to try the latest Fedora live images, they can be found at the bottom of the Fedora Release Engineering Dashboard: https://apps.fedoraproject.org/releng-dash/

    I also downloaded the live GNOME ISO of CentOS 7, and I can report that while it looks GREAT (with a nice implementation of GNOME 3.8), it runs hella hot on my year-and-a-half old AMD laptop. And it wouldn’t start under EFI — I had to use legacy boot to get it going.

    Another thing I’m looking at are repositories that offer extra packages for RHEL/CentOS/Scientific Linux. The two “big” repositories (to me anyway) are El Repo and Nux, and both are starting to build out their CentOS/RHEL 7 packages: http://elrepo.org/linux/elrepo/el7/x86_64/RPMS/ and http://li.nux.ro/download/nux/dextop/el7/x86_64/

    If you want to get serious about running CentOS/Scientific Linux on the desktop, you need to use these repositories to get the packages you want and need.

  6. Steven Rosenberg

    Joe, I’ve been thinking about your screen-blanking problem, and I remember that I had a similar problem with Debian and Xfce early last year, it turns out. My solution was to run a script at startup that fixed Xfce/Debian’s bad behavior in terms of letting Xscreensaver (or perhaps in your case Light Locker) manager screen blanking.

    The key is using xset to set the behavior you want, but delaying that action slightly so it “sticks.” I found that running my simple script without a delay didn’t work because something else in the configuration was setting xset behavior during the startup or login sequence.

    My blog post — http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog/desktops/Xfce/2013_0109_xfce_screenblanking_fix — details the whole thing and includes the script.

    You could try running this as one of your startup apps and see if it makes Xfce screen-blanking work the way you want (and I have a good feeling it will).

  7. Will

    You guys have mentioned several times that stock Xfce requires a lot of tweaking to be in a state you find acceptable. Are there any links you can point to or can you give an overview of what you do to tweak it? I use Debian and RHEL. I have installed Xfce on them, but I’m not sure how to modify it. I guess I could make a Xubuntu or Mint Xfce edition live USB and try to compare to that to my installations.

    Another Xfce question — do you use it on a laptop that you often connect to an external monitor? One problem I have is that I usually use my laptop as a desktop with an external monitor as the display and the laptop lid closed. With Xfce, the laptop display remained enabled with the lid closed until I disabled it in the display settings. However, then the laptop screen would not be re-enabled when I opened the lid and disconnected the external monitor. Thus if I took my laptop without remembering to re-enable the display, it was un-usable until I dropped back to the terminal and reset Xfce’s display config settings manually. Re-enabling the laptop screen works automatically with Gnome 2. I wasn’t sure if this was a problem with my settings, or just a limitation of Xfce’s display management (at least on a system where it is not well integrated).

  8. Campbell Barton

    Regarding GoLang replacing C which was mentioned in the show, I think it makes too many opinionated decisions, making it enough higher level then C.

    – Garbage collection (having it at all), *
    – Go-Routines (for co-currency)
    – Safe pointers (no pointer arithmetic)

    Good features, and I’m sure that for many uses it makes GoLang a better tool for many tasks – but still, theres tasks which are most likely still better suited to C, eg:
    – ray-tracer/rendering/rasterizing
    – pixel manipulation / compositor
    – game engine (depends, on the engine of course)
    – scripting language interpreter (CPython for example)
    – (assume kernel, device drivers etc… but I can’t speak from experience there).

    * Garbage collection and threading seems are 2 features higher level languages (Java, Python) for eg, struggle with – Once a language makes choices here, You’re really limited by them. Not to make out they are *nice* in C, but you can at least choose between PThreads, OpenMP (and more recently Cilk – C/C++ extension).

    • Rob Landley

      The problem Go has is that scripting languages are already an excellent tool for most of the tasks that C isn’t a good fit for.

      Scripting languages (python, perl, ruby, lua, php, and so on) are “dynamic everything”. Not just garbage collection, dynamic typing, and exceptions for error handling, but they’re even interpreted avoiding the need for makefiles and source vs binary distribution and portability issues.

      Of course “interpreted” above usually involves a dynamic bytecode compilation pass but it that’s an implementation detail that doesn’t matter because the abstraction is opaque. It just works, and you don’t have to care how. Just like combining garbage collection and dynamic typing lets you have dictionaries as a base type, and most users don’t care whether they’re implemented with hash tables or trees or something else entirely because it just works.

      The abstractions in languages like C++ leak implementation details so you have to know how it was implemented in order to use it reliably, let alone debug it. Adding _more_ abstractions to that sort of thing just makes the problem worse.

      The beauty of C is it has a minimum of abstraction standing between the programmer and what the machine is actually doing, just enough that porting from x86 to arm isn’t a complete rewrite like it would be in assembly language. The tools it gives you are knives and hammers: easy to screw up with but without the “it just went off, I didn’t know it was loaded” kind of issues of more automated tools with hidden state.

      Adding abstraction to C without going all the way to a scripting language has been tried a bunch of times, the most successful of which was probably Java. Here’s the definitive explanation of what’s wrong with Java:

      http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2007/12/codes-worst-enemy.html

      The tl;dr of that was Java added references and dynamic memory management but kept a static compile-time type system, then realized that was a mistake and added interfaces to punch holes in their type system, wound up with incredibly verbose boilerplate code, and responded with code generators. The result is 2 year old java projects with less than a dozen contributors regularly grow to over a million lines of source, and their “fix” is to build tools to deal with ever-larger codebases that no human could ever hope to read any significant portion of. And that’s what _success_ looks like when mixing static and dynamic language designs. Go and rust and swift aren’t old enough to host codebases with scalability issues yet, but there’s a reason so many previous efforts at what they’re trying to do have failed.

      That’s why it’s hard for them to hold my interest. If you want what they’re trying to do, Lua is about as simple as a scripting language gets. (Lua’s problem is it doesn’t ship with a standard posix binding library. Instead it’s mostly used as a domain-specific language within various frameworks, the way javascript works on web pages in a browser or emacs lithp works on text buffers in emacs. Yes, from that viewpoint you can call posix bindings on unix just another domain, but “general purpose computer” is sort of a big one. And lua’s real problem is that none of the frameworks it’s used in are common enough to reach a critical mass the way “ruby on rails” did for Ruby. There’s a lot of lua out there, but it’s all in isolated pockets that don’t connect up.)

      Rob

      • Campbell Barton

        Re: scripting languages – yep, I see what you mean, many higher level languages end up needing to call
        into C libraries for low level code I ask myself `Why not just use Python` (or something similar).
        Since I’m already used to mixing low-level/high-level code like this.

        With the recent proliferation of languages, its a shame there doesn’t seem to be anyone making `a better C`,
        The attempts I saw so far either try to `solve` security issues, which is fine as far as that goes, Or they go in the
        direction of Objective-C, C++, D (adding abstractions & oop).

        Id be interested to see a something that keeps at the same level of C, while being more expressive (I can dream :) )

        But realistically – theres so much momentum behind C, some improved variant its going to gain traction.

        Re: code-bloat… interesting, I dont read developer blogs often (mostly listen to podcasts), a shame the language the author selected is dead by the looks of things (Rhino – last released 2012)
        Slightly related – its surprising how readily some developers accept large amounts of code into their projects.

        For us its a bit complicated since there are many 3rd-party libraries which aren’t packaged by distros (special purpose libs)
        – we sometimes integrate them, but its happened more then once that we end up having to maintain them.
        Not re-inventing the wheel is all well and good, but taking on someone elses code becomes a liability when you have to maintain it.

  9. Rob Mackenzie

    Great show as normal, Was laughing at Joes comment about Google giving the people what they want and that’s why there so big. Exactly what Tescos did now they are hated. Damed if you do damed if you don’t.

  10. Russell Dickenson

    I started listening to LL only halfway through the current catalogue. I now want to listen to those I have missed but am not sure how to do so. The list of episodes in the RSS feed and on the home page (“Recent Episodes”) seems to stop around at episode 10. To work around this I am downloading them directly using wget. Am I missing something obvious here?

    • Patrick

      Hi Russell – I’ve added a link to the end of the ‘Recent Shows’ list that will take you to a simple, full archive of past shows. Thanks for pointing out that we needed something like this.

      • Russell Dickenson

        You’re welcome. Frankly, you nearly gave me a heart attack because I just loaded your home page and suddenly found the “Full past show archive” and thought “Oh no… I’ve gone and done it *again*!”

        I realise also that I could probably have found the episodes via a Google search.

        I heard of LL via Linux Outlaws and the advertisement that was played on that podcast. At first I had no interest, but finally downloaded your latest (at the time) episode because I had run out of episodes from other podcasts. Now I am completely hooked, which is strange as I am far from being a Luddite. I am probably about Patrick’s age, with my hands first having touched Apple ][ and TRS-80 computers. Despite being a geek with a passion for constantly tinkering with and breaking Windows, I came fairly late to Linux around the mid 90s. Since then I distro hopped, being described harshly by a colleague at the time as a distro floozy. For desktop environments I I used KDE 3.x for a long time, then Xfce and finally GNOME 2.x, then GNOME 3.x. This week I have started trying out MATE. Regarding distros, I ran many over the years, settling on Frugalware Linux but for the last few years mainly Fedora as I am a Red Hat employee and that’s what I run at work.

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