not all change is progress
January 4, 2015
Direct download links: MP3 & Ogg
We report on the news of how a booming Android eco-system doesn’t translate into actual profits for many hardware manufacturers, and how recent major hacks may have just been part of a marketing scheme. Another story provides a timely reminder of why biometrics can be a poor authentication choice; and we bid a possible farewell to one distro, and a definite one to the Web’s first comprehensive index.
If you’ve ever wanted to see the notifications on your Android devices in real time on your desktop, then come off the beaten path with us, as we take a look at an app to scratch that itch.
After your feedback, we’re into the obligatory predictions for the year ahead. Whether you agree with our thoughts or not, we’d love to hear yours.Intro
Does Samsung’s Touchwiz for Android point towards the need for one Linux disro to rule them all? Is Joe about to ditch his beloved Firefox browser? Will Paddy ever have anything to share in these intro pieces? And just how many podcasts can one man record over a two week period?
Note that whilst the Christmas special of the Mind Tech Podcast Joe spoke about is great fun, it’s most definitely NSFW.
The transparent Fx0 will finally make you want a Firefox OS phone
Crouton for Chromebooks: Run Ubuntu in a browser tab
How Android beat iOS in 2014, and vice versa
Android Hardware Profits Tanked in 2014
Script Kiddies enjoy some time off school
Krebs makes it personal
Lizard Squad’s Xbox Live, PSN attacks were a ‘marketing scheme’ for new DDoS service
Sony compensate affected users
Chaos Computer Club claims it can reproduce fingerprints from people’s public photos
German minister fingered as hacker ‘steals’ her thumbprint from a PHOTO
German minister photo fingerprint ‘theft’ seemed far too EASY, wail securobods
EFF: Law enforcement ‘desperately’ trying to hide use of surveillance cell towers
This App Claims to Know When Police Are Tracking You with Fake Cell Towers
Odds ‘n’ Sods
ROSA Desktop Fresh R5 Release Notes
Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center (OpenELEC) v5 Released
ZevenOS 6.0 – Goodbye Edition
Yahoo Directory Closes, Five Days Early
Two Internet History Podcast shows about the rise of Yahoo!
Upstream & Development
Updating the Linux Kernel Without Restart Could Arrive Soon for Users
Builder, An IDE of our GNOME
0:53:17 Off the Beaten Path
Jesse introduced us to Linconnect, a GPLv3 project which provides a simple way to view your Android notifications on a Linux desktop. In passing, Paddy mentioned the slightly more comprehensive – but proprietary – Pushbullet.
A huge thank you to cocreature, navigium and an anonymous donor for your Flattrs; and to Jonathan Glossop, who joined the ranks of our PayPal Monthly Supporters. And, as Joe commented, a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last year – you really do keep the show on the road.
Jesse mentioned a plug we got on the Windows-focused Admin Admin Podcast; and, as ever, thanks to everyone for your emails, website comments, and feedback on Twitter and Google Plus.
Nathan D Smith, Steven Rosenberg and SonOfNed all got in touch following our cursory look at Fedora 21. And yes – whisper it softly – we did find GNOME Shell no longer to be a thing of nightmares. To be honest, I think that this is going to be a big year for the GNOME cabal, as various pieces (including the IDE mentioned in the News) come together to create a coherent eco-system based around that desktop. It’s entirely possible that with Canonical pursuing similar goals in their own space, this year could mark the beginning of a fracturing of the commonality of the entire Linux space into three competing eco-systems: Red Hat compliant distros, Ubuntu and direct derivatives, and everyone else. So there’s another prediction for 2015, but since nobody reads these show notes, one I don’t expect to be held to ;)
SonOfNed flagged up a potential issue for those commenting here on our website. If anyone else has experienced difficulties, please do get in touch.
Michael Tatum tried to help Paddy (and Joe, as it turns out) get around Google’s desire to push you towards the new version of Drive; whilst Phil and Ian Barton weighed in with praise for Syncthing. And it was good to hear from Damian Nowak that his VirtKick project, which we briefly mentioned last show, had achieved a strong funding result.
SonOfNed wrote in with agreement about Paddy’s comments on the likely disruptive impact of containerisation on the Linux desktop environment; whilst Nathan D Smith offered some thoughts about atomic update processes.
Ivor O’Connor and Joel both wondered why torrents aren’t used more frequently for distro distribution; and Joel also commented on distro installation without the need for the usual full CD/DVD ISO image.
Thanks again to everyone who got in touch, and please keep it coming. We’re always striving to make the show something that’s relevant and interesting to as broad a range of people as we can, and your feedback – even the brickbats – helps us immensely in that regard!
1:17:52 2015 Predictions
We offered our obligatory predictions for the coming year; with Jesse and Joe coming up with specifics that we’ll be able to check back on in twelve month’s time, and Paddy being somewhat vaguer, other than mentioning his belief that this will be a big year for Nuzzel.
(Not collecting comments I forget to post this time…)
@Jessie: If the GUIs for wireless confuse you just do it in the command line – will stay the same until systemd takes over network configuration ;)
A systemd evangelist writes: I find this easier using netctl and systemd, than the old way. Just copy one of the existing example profiles and amend with your own details. It’s then just a matter of netctl enable your_profile and netctl start your _profile. There is also wifi-menu which is an ncurses frontend for creating profiles.
One thing that annoys me and it may not be systemd doing this, is the new unique naming convention for interfaces. I can se why it’s a good idea – your interface name always stays the same, even if you add/swap interfaces. However, wpls0gobbledegook isn’t quite as memorable as wlan0.
Hi Florian, I’m happy with sorting my wifi in Debian based distros, and also normally more than happy with GUI’s for the same thing. However I’ve never come across a distro that has two ways of setting up the wifi – neither of which seemed to take control and actually work. The Yast interface scanned and found my network – so you’d think was a goer – however didn’t have any connection regardless of the tinkering I did. So I looked at the WiCd (or equivalent, whatever it was in KDE) GUI and that was locked as something else was controlling the WiFi. However I’ve only come to these conclusions since switching to the XFCE desktop and understanding what’s going on from a known backdrop.
And I’m sure Sysd will make this all so simple in future! :P
They’re coming! The Firefox OS TVs are coming. This was just announced at CES.
Yep, and Samsung (funnily enough) plan on using Tizen: http://linuxgizmos.com/samsung-turns-to-tizen-for-new-smart-tvs/
To be honest, the only thing likely to have significant real-world impact that I’ve seen out of CES (so far), has been Microsoft’s $29 phone: http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-releases-the-nokia-215-its-29-internet-phone/
We’ll keep watching, and no doubt cover some of the shiny next show ;)
I thought the Intel Compute Stick (http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/compute-stick/intel-compute-stick.html) also announced at CES seemed pretty cool. However, similar to the Raspberry Pi, I’m not really sure what I would do with one if I had it.
For shame, Luddites! Going on about piping notifications from your mobile devices to your desktop! A proper Luddite hates interruptions whilst computing. I myself turn off every notification, killing it at its source when it first crops up.
Regarding the various kernel hot patching technologies, Joe is exactly right: in an ideal world, the best solution to 100% uptime is always application-based redundancy. Better to have a load-balanced or failover cluster than to rely on a single machine staying running.
That being said, much of what we do in enterprise IT is working around poorly-implemented software which has nonetheless become critical. As a point of reference, I work for a university hospital, so we are a 24×7 shop. Some of our healthcare applications only have scheduled downtimes every other month, but patches come out more frequently than that. So what if you have such an application server which does not support any high availability solutions? Having the ability to hot patch the kernel can extend uptimes while keeping things secure.
Indeed. In the end you have to work within the constraints of the “customer”, even when they are unreasonable and make bad decisions.
Hey guys, thanks for the great show. A pleasure to listen as always.
I was especially amused by your interest in linconnect.
Way back in 2014 (shows 27 & 28 I think) you folks had no
interest at all in remote notifications via smartwatches,
and bemoaned people who couldn’t be bothered to just look
at their phone. Now, you are enthusiastic about getting
notifications on your desktop.
Ah, The Times They Are A Changin’. :-)
I like the idea of linconnect. And I like that it is open-source. But, functionally it would be a major downgrade from what Android Wear offers: It goes with me no matter what computer/device I am using (or none at all), and I can actually do something with the notifications.
Haha, fair point Joel. I think we mostly bemoaned Joe’s awful selection of smart watch, didn’t we?! I’m interested to know what watch you have, and whether you think it adds something that was genuinely missing, or whether it’s a fun toy?
You are correct, it was mostly about the Omate. But there were also some comments along the lines of “why would anyone want it in the first place?” if I remember correctly. I didn’t go back and re-listen though, honestly.
I used to have the Pebble, now I have the Moto
For me, it does add functionality. I use a pattern lock, so it is mildly inconvenient to check for notifications. That mild inconvenience adds up though, from notifications day in and day out.
Plus, I can use it as a trusted device so that the lock is disabled when it is connected.
I was not interested in the heartrate and pedometer features, but I have found that actually I really enjoy having the information.
A triumph for science, and also open-source software (Blender).
Great Moments in Luddism —
Stallman is explaining (~5:30) how free software means you control the program, not the other way around.
Then LibreOffice totally screws up on him.
A quick comment on the Chromebook-Situation: I have
completely wiped the Google stuff off mine and replaced
it with Free firmware (from this source: https://johnlewis.ie/) and real Linux,
without any breakages. If I can do it, you definitely
That said, I have an Acer C720 with an Intel CPU, which makes things much easier in choosing distros etc.
It makes for an awesome Linux laptop.
(I put Manjaro on mine, a friend of mine put Kubuntu on his)
I also run Manjaro (Xfce) on it.
Opening it up and dis- and renabling the firmware write-protect was quite fun. In comparison to other Laptops the C720 is quite a bit less locked-down [apart from RAM being non-upgradeable, which is a big disadvantage].
Oooh, now you’ve got me tempted, but I’m still torn regarding the Arm processor.
Okay scrap that, just looked and my HP11 isn’t on his list so will stick with ChromeOS. Also allows me to have a view when we cover something in the news segment regarding ChromeOS updates and the like….
I moved to Linux from Windows about 6 months ago – fed up with my old laptop’s fan going like crazy and the poor thing overheating and shutting down. My initial choice was Ubuntu 14.04, and I quickly got the hang of it and was really happy – yes even with Unity which I thought was actually pretty usable. However upgrading the distro to 14.10 broke things, graphics got really slow and choppy, and I had no idea why or what to do. I then decided to move straight to the deep end – I read ‘the Arch way’ and couldn’t resist. Three long weekends later, I had a lovely simple Arch installation running Gnome 3. It’s been great – my laptop runs fast and cool and everything is bang up to date. Which finally brings me to my point – I’ve loved listening to this podcast (though most of it is way over my head) but I’m a bit bemused about all the time given to talk about various distros. Why would I want to abandon my current setup and move to Fedora, or Mint, or Debian, or Ubuntu MATE etc? Apart from the aesthetics of how these distros set up their desktops/panels/themes it seems to me I can simply install whatever packages/desktops they have under Arch and I’m good. It seems to me that the “one distro to rule them all” would just be Arch, but with a nice simple installer. Am I missing something I wonder?
Hi Brindleoak, glad you enjoy the podcast and trust me, the more you immerse yourself in Linux the more things start to slot into place. This is especially true if you’ve dived into the world of Arch!!
Onto your main point, and I got so much written I
figured I’d number the points;
1 – one of the differentiators between distributions is their package management systems. Arch has pacman, but there are pro’s and cons of this and others, Debian uses APT, Fedora uses RPM etc. The advantages and disadvantages of each may sway you towards a particular distro.
2 – Arch has a reputation for having major breakages upon updates. This is a potentially unfair call, but reputations sometimes are! There are mixed reports on this and you may be fine, but there is certainly a view that an Arch install requires you to know a lot more about your system to use. For example things like setting up printers, SAMBA shares, automatic changing wallpapers or whatever you want/need are generally more easily configured using built in, or pre-installed tools from distributions such as Mint and Ubuntu, but will require user knowledge for their implementation in Arch.
3 – When you install from the Arch repo’s you tend to receive the clean upstream version of packages. This may be good because then you have it as the developer wants you to see it, but there are many instances that a distribution will want to tweak or tinker with it to either make it fit their look or user experience. Look at XFCE – you’ll hear Joe bemoan the stock XFCE experience as it’s ugly as sin, despite it being his DE of choice. But then you look at Xubuntu and it’s a very different experience. Sure, you can do all the tweaks required to make stock XFCE to look as good as Xubuntu but why bother?? It’s there for you in Xubuntu already!
4 – Choice.
Thanks for your feedback, and look forward to your next.
I recently started using Arch as well because I wanted to have a system with up to date packages, to learn more about how Linux distros are put together and to try out systemd. I haven’t used it long enough to comment on Jesse’s point about it breaking on update, but I think a couple illustrations of Jesse’s other points can be found in Brindleoak’s post itself:
1. Brindleoak mentions spending three long weekends setting up Arch. All of the other distros mentioned give you a fairly usable system out of the box whereas Arch requires a significant investment in researching and configuring to get to that point.
2. Brindleoak mentions switching (I won’t call it upgrading) from 14.04 to 14.10 breaking things for him. On the Ubuntu Desktop download page, Canonical promotes 14.04 prominently as the recommended version and then offers 14.10 below that as the latest version. As the motto of Linux Luddites says, not all change is progress — there is some advantage to remaining on a well-tested LTS release rather than jumping to each new release. I would expect small things to break periodically in Arch in the same way that they do when going between Ubuntu releases.
One more related point about updates: one major service that stable distros like Debian provide is that they push security updates quickly while shielding the user from new features that could be buggy. Arch doesn’t need to do this because it always pushes the new versions when they are available, so the security updates come along with the new features. My point in bringing this up is just to point out that this filtering out of security updates from new features can be viewed as an added service if you are wary of buggy new features (i.e. these distros do more than just sit on old versions for two years).
That said, I have enjoyed using Arch so far, and it is definitely a fitting choice for one who wants to fine tune every aspect of the system, but I see it as pretty far away from being the one distro to rule them all — I can’t see most users being bothered with looking up how to install wireless drivers and a display server for instance.
Brindleoak might also be interested in Arch derivatives like Manjaro which has gotten pretty good reviews but comes closer to being usable out of the box (I haven’t tried it yet — I wanted to get familiar with Arch itself first).
Ah thank you Will, I’d meant to bring that point up but completely forgot. 3 weeks without a usable computer isn’t everyone’s idea of progress!!
Thanks for taking the time to reply guys – really insightful comments. Slightly worried now I have hold of a raving beast I don’t understand by the tail. But hey, life’s too short for Windows!
As a Firefox user, I’m disappointed to hear that a gesture issue might be the final straw that pushes Joe over the edge. I know the odds for Firefox are not good, but I’ll hold out from using Google’s browser for as long as I can. I thought I would look into seeing if I could fix the scrolling issue for Joe myself, but the only hybrid laptop I have access to is my wife’s which runs Windows 8.1. I tried scrolling with my finger in Firefox — and it worked perfectly.
I can still believe that the scrolling issue was a problem for Joe though. I recently got a new computer myself that came with Windows 8.1 which I used until I had time to set it up to dual boot Linux. I was surprised to find that Firefox overall seemed to perform better in Windows than I had been used to it working in OS X and Linux. I interpreted this as an indicator of the greater resources that Google has to put into its browser compared to Mozilla. Mozilla likely has to focus its efforts on the Windows version and some features don’t fully translate to OS X and Linux. It probably helps that Google likely puts a lot of effort into making Chrome work smoothly in ChromeOS and that translates into Chrome working more smoothly on Linux in general.
I’ll go ahead and put my other Mozilla comments here as well —
I am looking forward to hearing your review of the FirefoxOS phone. Personally, I do not own a smartphone but, as a fan of the Mozilla mission statement (if not the execution), I have been tempted to try one out since they are fairly inexpensive but fear of it being fairly unusable due to low-end hardware, lack of apps, and general bugginess has held me back. I heard Joe mention on Mint Cast that ZTE Open C was the most powerful phone you had access to and I was surprised because I remembered hearing that the Flame was the more powerful phone aimed at developers but I see that it is now no longer available. Right now, I am thinking that the first FirefoxOS device I end up trying out will be the MatchStick (http://www.matchstick.tv/) which I just heard about for the first time this week. I am hoping that might be a form factor where FirefoxOS can compete with its rivals.
Oops, I forgot that I had one more comment for you guys. A suggestion for another First Impressions distro, Red Star OS:
Regarding Linconnect being a bit basic and lacking a history feature, Jessie asked about a Recent Notifications application. Try this:
I too will stay with Firefox as long as possible due to lack of some similar addons in other browsers. However, I’ve just discovered that Opera 26 is a great, stable browser for Linux – it uses the least memory (consequently fast), works well with Google Maps (personal req’mt) and uses ‘Pepper’ Flash for those numerous annoying websites that still require it.
I just read an excerpt from an interview with Lennart Poettering due out in Linux Voice issue #12 (late Jan):
(note: this interview with Lennart in LV #12 is not the same as the LP interview heard in the Linux Voice Podcast in Dec)
I found the excerpt informative for my curiosity about how the greater Linux development ecosystem interacts behind the scenes, as well as one surprising technical detail that was news to me.
I had read elsewhere that the Lennart himself had submitted the GNOME changes to utilize Logind. This had really bothered me based on my assumption that GNOME would have a hard dependency on systemd moving forward, and that the systemd project itself was responsible for that dependency.
In the interview excerpt, Lennart claims that when he made the GNOME changes to use Logind, he was ‘very careful to make sure it would still run on ConsoleKit’.
The fact that GNOME won’t have a hard dependency on systemd (at least initially) makes a big difference for me in terms of how I interpret the motivations behind the systemd project’s GNOME submittal. Now, I’m not ready to nominate LP for sainthood any time soon, but I’m still stumbling across new technical details (amongst all the noise) that affect my perspective on systemd. I’m hoping that the full Lennart interview in LV #12 provides even more technical insights.
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