not all change is progress
February 16, 2015
Direct download links: MP3 & Ogg
Last fortnight was dominated by two releases: the new Raspberry Pi 2, and the first Ubuntu mobile. With one of our number having got his hands on both of these, we report back on the Cray-like performance of the Pi, and how the Ubuntu phone could finally be a challenger to the legendary Wasp T12. Or not.
In the news, we talked about the sad demise of CrunchBang, the UK’s headlong rush into a surveillance state befitting our humble status as Airstrip One, a mysterious disappearing anti-FSF campaign, and much more. And with a first impressions of the Pi and a deep-dive into Ubuntu Touch topping and tailing your feedback, that’s the show. We hope you enjoy it.In or around London on February 26th? Like to meet up with Joe and Jesse, Scott from mintCast, Matt from TDTRS and Popey from UUPC? See Joe’s blog for further details.
CrunchBang: The End
LMDE going rolling
Android 5.1 is out, already shipping on new phones
Android Lollipop: meet the UK team behind the world’s biggest mobile operating system
The first Tizen smartphone isn’t an “Android killer” – it’s a bad Android clone
FSF adds Guix System Distribution to list of endorsed distributions
Where did occupygpl.org go?
Happy 10th anniversary, Nathan Barley
Xfce 4.12 Release date
LXQt 0.9.0 released
ownCloud 8 released
GCHQ intelligence sharing ‘was unlawful’, tribunal rules
‘Innocent people’ on police photos database
New Linux backdoor carries extensive payload
US Publishers Are Responsible for Most Malicious and Risky Apps, Putting Everyone with a Smartphone at Risk (~250KB PDF)
Executive Director Andrew Lewman Answers Your Questions About Tor and Privacy
‘Google search on steroids’ brings dark Web into the light
Once-starving GnuPG crypto project gets a windfall. Now comes the hard part
Answering the Call for Werner Koch’s Everywhere
0:37:18 First Impressions
We found out whether Joe had any regrets about his impetuous eBay purchase of the new Raspberry Pi 2.
A huge thank you to Simon Raffeiner for the PayPal donation, and to Simon Lewis – our newest Monthly Supporter. And thanks to keithzg and an anonymous listener for the Flattrs.
Elisha Montgomery posted on our G+ Community to detail setting up Easy2Boot under Linux – thanks, Elisha.
Less positively, Steven Rosenberg took Joe to task for his description of the Bombono DVD user interface as ‘intuitive’; and David Wolski queried how luddite we Luddites really are.
Sean Andreas and Daniel offered some thoughts about the direction Cyanogen is taking; whilst Jonas Kalderstam reminded us how much of core Android is now reliant upon the (closed-source) Google Play Services. Some comments on the unprofitability of the Android space for hardware manufacturers by SonOfNed presaged us sharing some shocking statistics about the mobile market-space.
The costs of our computing – both environmental, and those incurred to power companies – was a topic raised again by Tony Molloy, SonOfNed and Steven Rosenberg.
Finally, Daniel and Keith Z-G both chipped in with some thoughts following our piece last show about social media. Thanks to you both, and to everyone else who got in touch over the last fortnight.
1:09:57 Ubuntu Phone
Long discussed, Canonical finally unveiled an Ubuntu phone in conjunction with Spanish supplier bq (yes, bq – ignore the paid tech press who don’t bother checking things like capitalisation <sigh>). Joe managed to briefly get his hands on the bq Aquarius E4.5, whilst Paddy and Jesse had to make do with flashing the Ubuntu Touch OS onto their Nexus 7 tablets for a gander.
I think that it’s fair to say we were pleasantly surprised, if not bowled over; which seems to have been the general consensus of the unboxing reviews so far. It’ll certainly be interesting to watch this platform develop, particularly if Canonical can rustle up some decent and full-featured native apps…
Have you tried Ubuntu Core on your Raspberry Pi 2 (http://www.ubuntu.com/things)?
Also, have you heard about the Odroid-C1 (http://www.hardkernel.com/main/products/prdt_info.php)? It has the same form factor than the Raspberry Pi 2, but it is supposed to be more powerful. Maybe it could be good enough for Paddy to use it as a “desktop”…
I have tried Ubuntu Core and I was decidedly unimpressed.
Really Joe? That’s not like you! Ha.
Ubuntu Core seems bonkers to me. It takes the worst idea from the smartphone world – a monolithic low-level image with kernel and libraries that is a pain to update – and tries to apply it to the GNU/Linux world where we already had this stuff figured out decades ago with separate packages with interdependencies.
Right now when there’s a bug in a core component like bash or libssl then you download that package to upgrade it, and it’ll be about 0.5Mb or so. But with Ubuntu Core they’ll have to reroll the whole base image to include the minor update, which is going to weigh in at several hundred megabytes (I imagine?) 99% of which is the same as what you already have. Is this better than just updating the package concerned? It sounds utterly wasteful of everyone’s time to download the dupe bits.
“Stable base and packages on top” sounds more like the BSD approach than any Linux distro I’ve seen to me – except you see RHEL/CentOS + EPEL or Debian stable + backports as such a thing.
“…or is it my responsibility to get my money out?” – well, always keep a crowbar handy then :D
Want a strong copyleft license which is shorter and more human-readable than GPLv3? Check out Richard Fontana’s copyleft-next license. Unofficially aims to be about the same length as Apache 2.0.
The problem with copyleft is it only works if there’s a single ubiquitous license. Otherwise copyleft acts to _prevent_ code re-use. When copyleft is split between GPLv2 only and GPLv3 or later, Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike, Sun’s old CDDL or OSI’s Open Software License, no project under one of these licenses can use code under any of the others. Adding another “copyleft-next” variant to the mix doesn’t help matters, it just makes fragmentation worse.
This is why GPL use has been declining. GPLv3 means there’s no such thing as “The GPL” anymore, Linux under GPLv2 and Samba under GPLv3 can’t share code anymore, even though they implement two ends of the same protocol. In the absence of a universal receiver, developers have been switching to a universal donor.
(Unfortunately while the public domain remains subject to Fear Uncertainty and Doubt, the various bsd/mit/isc/apache varaints’ requirements to copy slightly different specific license text into all derived works causes similar fragmentation, which is why so many devices’ about pages have hundreds of pages of legal boilerplate, uselessly concatenating together the various license text of each project. You don’t have this problem if you use a public domain equivalent license like unlicense,org, CC-zero, toybox’s zero clause BSD, or the simple public domain permission grants in libtommath/libtomcrypt in the dropbear repository.)
I gave an entire talk about this at Ohio LinuxFest in
In some jurisdictions (say Germany) there’s no legal term like “public domain”. You just can’t get rid of your copyright on stuff besides being dead for pretty darn long. So a simple “do what you want, but don’t blame me” style license is better tool for such a usecase.
PS: OK, or creating stuff under some contract like a paid software dev.
Zero clause BSD is a license. Unlicense.org is a license. Creative commons zero is a license. (The annoying ones are when people like Dan Bernstein refuse to state what the terms on his code _are_, not that this stopped people from using qmail. But pragmatically, has the libtomcrypt and libtommath subdirectories of dropbear saying “this code is in the public domain” stopped anyone in germany from using dropbear?)
The nice thing about public domain licenses is they don’t tie you to specific license text if you make a combined work, so you don’t wind up with nonsense like the “Kindle Paperwhite” having over 300 pages of license boiler plate under its about tab, or buildroot’s entire “make legal-info” infrastructure.
Some lawyers hate the idea that you might deny them future paychecks, and they can be as big a source of FUD as the proprietary software companies fighting against ubiquitous public domain software after the Apple vs Franklin decision extended copyright to cover binaries in 1983.
For example, OSI’s ex-lawyer wrote an article comparing attempts to place code into the public domain to abandoning trash by the side of a highway. No really:
Personally I read that article as “don’t you dare do this or I’ll be out of a job”.
Joe! As a fellow Nexus 5 owner, let me say you can relax about Android 5.1, Yes, we in the Android world are quite confused. Was 5.1 a typo? How did we go from 5.02 to 5.1? But indeed, it is real and it is slowly coming to all Nexus devices younger than the revised Nexus 7 as soon as the OTA files can be stabilized.
I will be listening to the Android Central Podcast with much interest when it streams live tomorrow at 21:00 GMT. You might want to listen in if you aren’t busy Friday night. I expect a lot of clarification as to what this is all about and how long it might take to reach Nexus devices.
But rest assured Nexus is not going away. Google killed Google Play editions. Nexus is here to stay as a direct to consumer hardware program.
Just got back from Ubucon in Los Angeles today and have
– I saw the bq Ubuntu Phone at their booth and agree that it has promise, but I just played with the UI slightly and didn’t actually ‘use’ it. The presentation on their dev tools mentioned that phone apps can ‘scale’ up to a desktop; I remain to be convinced that apps simple enough for a phone have usefulness on a desktop and conversely, why a complex app like Libreoffice is needed on a phone.
– An Ubuntu manager stated that Ubuntu Snappy Core static images can be used to update embedded devices; the device will download a new image to a second (flash based) partition in the background and will switch to it after reboot. If it doesn’t work out, the device can be switched back to the other working partition. Main cost to stingy device manufacturers is double the flash memory currently required – a small price to pay for security and other updates.
Regarding the Ubuntu phone (and the Windows phone, for that matter), I’d like to posit that most people actually use only a few apps on a regular basis. If you get the biggies — Twitter, Facebook, Google and Yahoo mail, etc., I think a non-Android or -iOS phone can be quite useful.
But in terms of “real” success, probably the only way for it to happen is for Ubuntu (the whole thing, or just the phone and cloud portions) to be bought by someone like Amazon who needs a better toehold in both the mobile and cloud-software spaces who could throw some weight behind the effort to get apps coded for Ubuntu Touch.
Amazon already did a Kindle Fire Phone last year. It sank without trace.
Amazon and iPhone are the PC and Mac of the new generation. The ubuntu phone, firefox phone, sailfish OS, Tizen, and so on are all struggling to be the Amiga and OS/2 of the new platform. (Before that we had symbian, openmoko, blackberry, webos, limo, and so on. The problem is not a shortage of competitors, but that dominant market share creates defacto standards regardless of technical merit.)
Microsoft’s Zune phone is learning how Linux on the Desktop felt, strugging to maintain single digit market share despite billions of dollars of ongoing investment. Microsoft’s vast fortune and PC monopoly leverage are an advantage the way Linux being open source was an advantage or OS/2 being properly 32-bit back when windows 3.1/95/98 were 16 bits and a coat of paint. But strapping rocket engines to a turtle doesn’t help when you’re on the wrong side of network effects’ positive feedback loop. It’s a red queen’s race, consuming immense effort just to stay at the fringes.
First of all I love your podcast, it give a good over view of the world of Linux. I heard that the Raspberry Pi 2 could be used as a light weight desktop. So I’m glad I heard Joe’s review which clearly pointed out the strengths and weakness of the “pi”.
I do use Crunch Bang linux, and yes it is possible with various scripts to have OS similar to Crunch Bang – but there is no I would know how to do it. So for a person like me, it was nice to simply install and use CrunchBang. It is a great OS for an older rig.
Well, the phone review wasn’t glowing, but it left me fairly optimistic considering who was giving the review. It was promising that one of your biggest complaints was lack of apps development, but that even within the time that you reviewed the phone there updates pushed to the apps that addressed some of your issues.
Jesse touched on the convergence topic a little bit, but I am still interested to hear more about it. Namely, is it possible to compile and run all desktop Linux programs for the phone (most are usually not compiled for ARM so minor speed bumps from that set aside)? If so, that would offer one way forward for the Ubuntu phone without a strong phone developer community. Unity, Gnome, and KDE have already been pushing towards designs that work well on tablets, so if those applications translate to the phone that would be one source of development to draw from.
That said, I am expecting it will still take a while for the Ubuntu Phone to be considered a viable option for someone used to the utility of an Android one. What was the web browser like? You didn’t complain about it, so I guess it’s decent. It is pretty important if most of the apps are web apps. As someone who has resisted getting a smartphone phone so far, I don’t have a good sense of the practical difference (I understand the concept of having part of the interface compiled and stored locally vs having to pull everything from the web as needed), but the Ubuntu phone sounds almost like something that would make me try a smartphone.
wrt to the Linux Luddites podcast name. Perhaps a slight rebranding to Linux Luddites(?) could help resolve the paradox :-)
FYI the maintainer of mksh (@mirabilos on twitter) maintains a systemd removal repository for debian at https://www.mirbsd.org/~tg/Debs/ that lets you go:
apt-get install prevent-systemd-completely
(Haven’t tried it, I’m staying on xubuntu 14.04 as long as that lasts and using the time to try to turn Android into a usable development environment. Debian can go the way of the vax.)
… “can go the way of the vax”. lol. Now that’s a funny curse, at least for those of us who remember when the DEC VAX was as wildly successful as today’s iPhones. How quickly the high tech tide can turn.
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