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Xubuntu: inxi

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-08-28 16:01

inxi is a full featured system information script that will detect information about hardware specifications, including but not limited to vendor details, CPU info, graphic and sound cards. Most importantly, it will output everything in a easy to read format and it can also be used on irc clients like irssi, weechat or xchat.

How to use inxi?

The general use of inxi is inxi -<color> -<option>. inxi output is colored and to change the color for better visibility use the c option followed by a number between 0-32.

Information type Command, usage, and more information System information inxi -b and inxi -F
The b option output basic system information, while the F option will output full system information. Hard drive details inxi -D
Outputs information on your hard drives, like make, model and size Hard drive partitions inxi -p
Outputs information about all mounted partitions, mount points and space usage Networking inxi -n and inxi -ni
Outputs information about the details of the network interfaces and configuration. When the i option is used with n, Inxi will output IP address details (for both WAN and LAN). Hardware inxi -AG and inxi -h
The A and G options output information about the audio and graphics hardware respectively. You usually want to use them together. The h option outputs you the full list of options you can use to get even more information about your hardware. Using inxi in IRC clients Client Usage Xchat, irssi and most other clients /exec -o inxi -<option> | pastebinit
The -o option shows the output to the channel. Without it, only the user will see the output. Weechat /shell -o inxi -<option> | pastebinit
Note: For weechat to run external scripts like inxi, has to be installed.

Using inxi -c0 within a IRC client environment is highly advisable because colored output doesn’t work in pastebins.

Xubuntu: Laptop users, Fix available for the black screen on unlock bug

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-08-28 11:11

If you experienced problems with logging into your session after suspending your laptop by closing the lid (and only this exact scenario!), your days of worry should be over now. Many users have commented on the respective bugreport, many of whom experienced different issues with suspending. This made the issue very difficult to pinpoint in the beginning for us technical folk and confusing for users too.

Sean Davis, Technical Lead of Xubuntu, put together the pieces we collected after identifying the issue and the fix landed in the 14.04.1 and 14.10 Beta 1 releases. This means that the problem is fixed for

  • New installs of Xubuntu 14.04.1 or Xubuntu 14.10 Beta 1
  • New users created with xubuntu-default-settings 14.04.5

All those of you who have been running Trusty since its release have to toggle a setting in order to fix the issue for existing user-accounts:

  1. Open Light Locker Settings from the Settings Manager
  2. Turn “Enable Light Locker” Off. Click “Apply”.
  3. Turn “Enable Light Locker” On. Click “Apply”.

These steps have to followed manually because we never overwrite existing user settings.
Obviously, if you previously had disabled Light Locker, the last step is sufficient.

Charles Butler: Juju <3's Big Data

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-08-27 21:06

Syndicators, there is a video link above that may not make syndication. Click the source link to view the 10 minute demo video.

Over the past 4 months Amir Sanjar and I have been working dilligently on Juju's Big Data story. Working with software vendors to charm up big name products like the Demo'd Hortonworks Hadoop distribution.

To those of you that know nothing about Hadoop - Hadoop is a large scale big data framework / suite of applications. It provides facilities to build an entire ecosystem to crunch numbers from seemingly unrelated data sources, and compute through petabytes of data via Map/Reduce applications.

A traditional hadoop deployment consists of a few components:

  • Map / Reduce Engine (or cluster of engines)
  • Data Warehousing Facility
  • Distributed Filesystem to cache results across the cluster
  • Data sources (MySQL, MongoDB, HBASE, Couch, PostGRES just to name a few)

Setting up these different services and interconnecting them can be a full day process for a seasoned professional in the Big Data ecosystem. Juju offers you a quick way to distill all of that setup and interconnectivity knowledge so you can be a master at USING hadoop. Not at deploying it.

Some people say Juju negates the need to read the book, and while this may be true; I still advise you read the book at least once - so you know how it's put together, why certain configurations were chosen, and how to troubleshoot the bundle should anything go wrong. Then you're free to wield the community provided Hadoop bundle(s) like a pro.

Enjoy the Demo, and look for more Big Data tools and products on the Juju Charm Store

Matthew Helmke: Whoa! Dropbox

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-08-27 20:42

Dropbox just announced they are increasing the storage space for paid accounts ($9.99/mo) from 100GB to a full terabyte for the same price. My account has been automatically updated. I think that earns them a mention on my blog. Here is a referral link that you are free to ignore.

Costales: Destino Ubuconla 2014 - #8 Santa Marta

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-08-27 15:36
Despertamos muy temprano para recoger la tienda. Tras el desayuno contratamos unos porteadores que nos acercaran a caballo las mochilas; el precio no es caro y así se puede disfrutar sin peso la hora y pico de la ruta de vuelta que lleva a la salida.
Desde el parque hasta Santa Marta compartimos taxi junto a Emi, una inglesa y su novio escocés. El taxi nos dejó en el hostal que nos recomendó Sebastián, un chico colombiano que conocimos en el desayuno y sabía mucho de esta zona.

Pero en el hostal no tenían habitación privada a excepción de la suite, con un precio parecido al hotel de Cartagena, por lo que la contratamos. Lo cierto es que se le queda grande el nombre de suite, pero uf, estábamos cansados y sin ganas de buscar otro hotel sobre la marcha.
Escribiendo la crónica del viaje en papel
Al igual que la tienda de Tayrona, la suite olía a insecticida que tiraba p'atras :S WTF!?

Tras descansar unas horas (yo intentando matar un mosquito al que no conseguí echar el guante) nos acercamos al centro de Santa Marta. Un pueblo típico, en donde lo más reseñable es su Plaza de los Novios, la Catedral y el paseo marítimo (era de noche y no lo apreciamos bien, pero parecía tener un feo muelle de containers en un lateral).
La Catedral
Al anochecer encontramos una calle peatonal con muchos restaurantes y ahí disfrutamos cenando en plena calle.
No faltó ni la velita
Durante la cena reservamos el hotel de Bogotá para ir de a hecho en esa mega urbe. El chollo fue conseguir un 5* por 230.000 pesos.

Al volver al hostal había bastante ambiente, pero estábamos tan cansados que nos quedamos sopa. A las 0:00 paraban la música zzzzZZZZzzzz

Continúa leyendo más de este viaje.

Ubuntu Kernel Team: Kernel Team Meeting Minutes – August 26, 2014

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-08-26 17:15
Meeting Minutes

IRC Log of the meeting.

Meeting minutes.


20140826 Meeting Agenda

Release Metrics and Incoming Bugs

Release metrics and incoming bug data can be reviewed at the following link:

Status: Utopic Development Kernel

The Utopic kernel remains based on the v3.16.1 upstream stable kernel
and is available for testing in the archive, ie. linux-3.16.0-11.16.
Please test and let us know your results.
Important upcoming dates:
Thurs Aug 28 – Utopic Beta 1 (~2 days)
Mon Sep 22 – Utopic Final Beta Freeze (~4 weeks away)
Thurs Sep 25 – Utopic Final Beta (~4 weeks away)
Thurs Oct 9 – Utopic Kernel Freeze (~6 weeks away)
Thurs Oct 16 – Utopic Final Freeze (~7 weeks away)
Thurs Oct 23 – Utopic 14.10 Release (~8 weeks away)

Status: CVE’s

The current CVE status can be reviewed at the following link:

Status: Stable, Security, and Bugfix Kernel Updates – Trusty/Precise/Lucid

Status for the main kernels, until today (Aug. 26):

  • Lucid – verification & testing
  • Precise – verification & testing
  • Trusty – verification & testing

    Current opened tracking bugs details:


    For SRUs, SRU report is a good source of information:



    cycle: 08-Aug through 29-Aug
    08-Aug Last day for kernel commits for this cycle
    10-Aug – 16-Aug Kernel prep week.
    17-Aug – 23-Aug Bug verification & Regression testing.
    24-Aug – 29-Aug Regression testing & Release to -updates.

    cycle: 29-Aug through 20-Sep
    29-Aug Last day for kernel commits for this cycle
    31-Sep – 06-Sep Kernel prep week.
    07-Sep – 13-Sep Bug verification & Regression testing.
    14-Sep – 20-Sep Regression testing & Release to -updates.

Open Discussion or Questions? Raise your hand to be recognized

No open discussion.

Daniel Pocock: GSoC talks at DebConf 14 today

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-08-26 16:33

This year I mentored two students doing work in support of Debian and free software (as well as those I mentored for Ganglia).

Both of them are presenting details about their work at DebConf 14 today.

While Juliana's work has been widely publicised already, mainly due to the fact it is accessible to every individual DD, Andrew's work is also quite significant and creates many possibilities to advance awareness of free software.

The Java project that is not just about Java

Andrew's project is about recursively building Java dependencies from third party repositories such as the Maven Central Repository. It matches up well with the wonderful new maven-debian-helper tool in Debian and will help us to fill out /usr/share/maven-repo on every Debian system.

Firstly, this is not just about Java. On a practical level, some aspects of the project are useful for many other purposes. One of those is the aim of scanning a repository for non-free artifacts, making a Git mirror or clone containing a dfsg branch for generating repackaged upstream source and then testing to see if it still builds.

Then there is the principle of software freedom. The Maven Central repository now requires that people publish a sources JAR and license metadata with each binary artifact they upload. They do not, however, demand that the sources JAR be complete or that the binary can be built by somebody else using the published sources. The license data must be specified but it does not appeared to be verified in the same way as packages inspected by Debian's legendary FTP masters.

Thanks to the transitive dependency magic of Maven, it is quite possible that many Java applications that are officially promoted as free software can't trace the source code of every dependency or build plugin.

Many organizations are starting to become more alarmed about the risk that they are dependent upon some rogue dependency. Maybe they will be hit with a lawsuit from a vendor stating that his plugin was only free for the first 3 months. Maybe some binary dependency JAR contains a nasty trojan for harvesting data about their corporate network.

People familiar with the principles of software freedom are in the perfect position to address these concerns and Andrew's work helps us build a cleaner alternative. It obviously can't rebuild every JAR for the very reason that some of them are not really free - however, it does give the opportunity to build a heat-map of trouble spots and also create a fast track to packaging for those heirarchies of JARs that are truly free.

Making WebRTC accessible to more people

Juliana set out to update and this involved working on JSCommunicator, the HTML5/JavaScript softphone based on WebRTC.

People attending the session today or participating remotely are advised to set up your RTC / VoIP password at well in advance so the server will allow you to log in and try it during the session. It can take 30 minutes or so for the passwords to be replicated to the SIP proxy and TURN server.

Please also check my previous comments about what works and what doesn't and in particular, please be aware that Iceweasel / Firefox 24 on wheezy is not suitable unless you are on the same LAN as the person you are calling.

Zygmunt Krynicki: Live Coding Experiment

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-08-26 15:55

Last week I've started doing recording videos of me, coding, live with screen sharing  and background context on everything I do. I did this to increase transparency of FOSS development as well as to increase awareness of the Checkbox project that I participate in.

I think while the actual videos are a bit too long for casual watching the experiment itself is interesting and worth pursuing.

I'm recording about 3-4 videos a day. I'll try to focus on making the content more interesting for both casual viewers that bail out after a minute or two and my hardcore colleagues that sometimes watch those to get up-to-speed about new feature development.

In any case, it is out there, in the open. If you want to talk to us, join #checkbox on freenode. Ping me on Google+. Browse the code. Improve translations or get involved in any other way you want.

Lastly, for a bit of self promotion, have a look at the latest video

Costales: Destino Ubuconla 2014 - #7 Tayrona

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-08-26 13:57
Tras levantarnos nos tuvimos que apurar en recoger la habitación, porque optimistas, nos vimos bien del estómago y decidimos sobre la marcha visitar Tayrona. Reservamos el transporte a las 7 y nos recogieron en 15' en la misma puerta del hotel.

Realmente se hacen largas las 4 horas de furgoneta, pasando por pueblos pequeños en los que se ve otra Colombia alejada del turismo.

Una vez en Santa Marta nos subimos a un bus bastante cutre que en 1 hora te deja en Zeino, entrada del parque, donde comimos y conocimos a Alberto y María Gala, una pareja madrileña muy maja.
Aguantamos las 5 horas de viaje y ¿qué mejor que comer para celebrarlo? :P
Tras pagar la entrada tocó lo más duro del viaje, cargar con todo el peso de la mochilona y mochilina durante 1 hora y media, bajando y subiendo por escaleras de madera que evitan que se erosione el parque.
Se nos hizo eterno, estábamos colorados como un tomate del esfuerzo físico. Alberto y Gala echaron una mano llevando la mochila pequeña de Lu.
La ruta con la mochila se hizo eterna
Al llegar al primer camping yo estaba interesado en una cabaña, pero eran de 6 personas y muy caras para una sola pareja.

Al final acabamos en el mismo camping que Alberto y Gala. Alquilamos una tienda ya montada, pero al meter las mochilas olía a insecticida que tiraba p'atrás y como prefiero que me coman los mosquitos a morrer por insecticida, montamos nuestra propia tienda, que es muy pequeña y no tiene doble techo... y encima pero comenzaba a tronar y llover :S (se cala si llueve).
Poco más podíamos hacer al estar anocheciendo que cenar en el prestoso comedor/bar del camping junto a Alberto y Gala, hasta que a las 23:00 apagaron el generador de gasolina.

Afortunadamente amainó el temporal y no llovió de noche.
Hoy toca conocer Tayrona. Fuimos directos a la playa conocida como Piscina, con poca marea, aún así, demasiada para estar rodeada de un arrecife natural. Buceando no veíamos mucho, porque tiene la arena muy revuelta.

Llegaron Alberto y Gala y juntos fuimos hasta la cala de Cabo San Juan. Esta estuvo mucho mejor, con más marea, pero el agua más transparente, viendo con las gafas de buceo unos cuantos peces donde había rocas. Comimos unas latas de atún con pan de molde y tras el frugal almuerzo quedamos solos, porque la pareja madrileña tuvo que marchar para llegar a Cartagena hoy.

Quedamos el resto de la tarde tomando el sol y bañándonos. También intenté romper un coco tal Tom Hanks en Naufrago...
A lo Tom Hanks = Mismo resultado
Pero uf... ¡Que chungo! Acabé rompiéndolo y perdiendo todo el líquido... Mejor me pido un jugo de coco en el próximo restaurante :P

Al caer el sol ya nos habíamos acercado a nuestro camping, donde conocimos a Guillermo y Adriana, una pareja catalana muy maja, con quienes cenamos y charlamos sobre viajes. El trabaja para Everis y le gustaba Ubuntu, así que conversación garantizada :)

¿Qué decir de Tayrona? Otro paraíso más y es que Colombia parece aglutinarlos :)
Tayrona es único
Sus playas rodeadas de palmeras y coronadas de montes son clavadas a la isla de la serie de TV Lost.
La actividad consiste ir de cala en cala, descubriendo una playa cada vez más guapa y paradisíaca.
Eso sí, el mar esta muy picado, con olas que rompen con toda su fuerza. Muchas de las playas no son aptas para bañarse, pero unas pocas sí y el paisaje de roca, playa y selva es espectacular.

Continúa leyendo más de este viaje.

Lubuntu Blog: LXPanel 0.7.0 released

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-08-25 23:39
A huge update to the GTK+ panel was released. See the list below for some changes. Full log of changes can be fund in git. Lots of new functionalities like:

  • new plugin ‘launchtaskbar’ combining ‘launchbar’ and ‘taskbar’
  • replaced ‘pager’ plugin with former ‘wnckpager’ one
  • allowed drag applications from system menu plugin
  • using human readable sensor names if available (like ‘Core 0′, etc)
  • renamed button to configure plugin from ‘Edit’ to ‘Properties’
  • etc.

Soon in Lubuntu repositories. More info here.

Via LXDE Blog

Nicholas Skaggs: Ubuntu Phone Translations Needed

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-08-25 21:16
As we continue to iterate on new ubuntu touch images, it's important for everyone to be able to enjoy the ubuntu phone experience in their native language. This is where you can help!

We need your input and help to make sure the phone images are well localized for your native language. If you've never contributed a translation before, this is a perfect opportunity for you to learn. There's a wiki guide to help you, along with translation teams who speak your language and can help.

Don't worry, you don't need a ubuntu phone to do this work. The wiki guide details how to translate using a phone, emulator, or even just your desktop PC running ubuntu. If nothing else, you can help review other folks translations by simply using launchpad in your web browser.

If this sounds interesting to you and the links don't make sense or you would like some more personal help, feel free to contact me. English is preferred, but in the spirit of translation feel free to contact me in French, Spanish or perhaps even German :-).

Happy Translating everyone!

P.S. If you are curious about the status of your language translation, or looking for known missing strings, have a look at the stats page kept by David Planella.

Costales: Destino Ubuconla 2014 - #6 KO

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-08-25 19:09
El cable del cargador del netbook hace mal contacto y desde este día no carga la batería, así que no puedo actualizar el blog. Recurro a escribirlo en papel y lo publico a la vuelva del viaje.

Tras desayunar, me acerqué solo (los demás siguen enfermos) a la Universidad Simón Bolívar en el barrio de Manga. Un bus nos llevaría durante 45' a la misma universidad que hay en el barrio Ternera.
Pero mientras esperábamos que llegasen todos los conferenciantes empezó a dolerme la tripa :S Decidí volver al hotel y perderme el 3er día de la Ubuconla :'( Nada más llegar se confirmó mi diarrea, así que todos los españoles caímos como moscas con el mismo síntoma :S

No pudimos salir en todo el día del hotel y gracias que Fernando y Marta nos acercaron suero ;) Al anochecer también aparecieron organizadores y conferenciantes preocupados de cómo estábamos ;)

Ahí se decidió que al día siguiente se saldría en lancha hasta una playa para pasar todos juntos el día, como colofón a la Ubuconla.

Al despertar, Lu sigue mal. Como habíamos quedado en el Hospital de Bocagrande para desde ahí ir a la playa, fuímos con Fernando y Marta, pero nosotros nos quedamos en dicho hospital.

Ingresaron a Lu muy rápido, en apenas 20', cuando en España las veces que fui por urgencias la media de espera fue de 7 horas.
Tras ponerle suero y medicamentos en vena tardaron mucho en darnos el alta, saliendo sobre las 15:00 (desde las 8:00) tras una factura de 165.000 pesos. El médico recetó medicamentos contra la deshidratación y control de la diarrea y desaconsejó el uso de Fortasec.

Estábamos esfamiaos, así que fuimos disparados a comer. Lu apenas comió y a mi me sentó mal lo poco que comí, volviendo a dolerme la tripa, por lo que me apunté a tomar la misma medicación que ella.

Al caer la tarde nos encontramos mejor y gastamos el resto del día paseando y conociendo el centro de Cartagena. No sé si es porque llevábamos un par de días enclaustrados en el hotel, pero el paseo prestó por la vida, recorriendo tiendas donde vendían de todo,
RedHat :)Paseando por las plazas principales pudimos ver una boda en la Catedral.
La bodaDisfrutamos un par de cafés.

El mejor café del mundo
Y tras el reconfortante paseo,
Recuperando el humor tras la convalecenciacenamos en el mismo sitio que hacía 2 días (como veis somos animales de costumbres, pero teníamos miedo a la comida de un bar típico).
Al finalizar aparecieron Fernando y Marta e hicimos una sobremesa bien prestosa.

Continúa leyendo más de este viaje.

Matthew Helmke: Linux Distro for Kids?

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-08-25 13:09

Short, informal survey. Feel free to comment here or via private messages/email. I may not respond to all comments, but will read with appreciation any you make.

What is your favorite Linux distribution that is intended for use by kids, say anywhere between the ages of 8 and 18? If you have more than one, feel free to name each.

Why do you like it?

If your preference for kids is a standard distro and not one intended for that audience, which is it and why?

Lucas Nussbaum: on the Dark Ages of Free Software: a “Free Service Definition”?

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2014-08-24 15:39

Stefano Zacchiroli opened DebConf’14 with an insightful talk titled Debian in the Dark Ages of Free Software (slides available, video available soon).

He makes the point (quoting slide 16) that the Free Software community is winning a war that is becoming increasingly pointless: yes, users have 100% Free Software thin client at their fingertips [or are really a few steps from there]. But all their relevant computations happen elsewhere, on remote systems they do not control, in the Cloud.

That give-up on control of computing is a huge and important problem, and probably the largest challenge for everybody caring about freedom, free speech, or privacy today. Stefano rightfully points out that we must do something about it. The big question is: how can we, as a community, address it?

Towards a Free Service Definition?

I believe that we all feel a bit lost with this issue because we are trying to attack it with our current tools & weapons. However, they are largely irrelevant here: the Free Software Definition is about software, and software is even to be understood strictly in it, as software programs. Applying it to services, or to computing in general, doesn’t lead anywhere. In order to increase the general awareness about this issue, we should define more precisely what levels of control can be provided, to understand what services are not providing to users, and to make an informed decision about waiving a particular level of control when choosing to use a particular service.

Benjamin Mako Hill pointed out yesterday during the post-talk chat that services are not black or white: there aren’t impure and pure services. Instead, there’s a graduation of possible levels of control for the computing we do. The Free Software Definition lists four freedoms — how many freedoms, or types of control, should there be in a Free Service Definition, or a Controlled-Computing Definition? Again, this is not only about software: the platform on which a particular piece of software is executed has a huge impact on the available level of control: running your own instance of WordPress, or using an instance on, provides very different control (even if as Asheesh Laroia pointed out yesterday, WordPress does a pretty good job at providing export and import features to limit data lock-in).

The creation of such a definition is an iterative process. I actually just realized today that (according to Wikipedia) the very first occurrence of an attempt at a Free Software Definition was published in 1986 (GNU’s bulletin Vol 1 No.1, page 8) — I thought it happened a couple of years earlier. Are there existing attempts at defining such freedoms or levels of controls, and at benchmarking such criteria against existing services? Such criteria would not only include control over software modifications and (re)distribution, but also likely include mentions of interoperability and open standards, both to enable the user to move to a compatible service, and to avoid forcing the user to use a particular implementation of a service. A better understanding of network effects is also needed: how much and what type of service lock-in is acceptable on social networks in exchange of functionality?

I think that we should inspire from what was achieved during the last 30 years on Free Software. The tools that were produced are probably irrelevant to address this issue, but there’s a lot to learn from the way they were designed. I really look forward to the day when we will have:

  • a Free Software Definition equivalent for services
  • Debian Free Software Guidelines-like tests/checklist to evaluate services
  • an equivalent of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, explaining how one can build successful business models on top of open services

Exciting times!

Lubuntu Blog: Community wallpaper contest

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2014-08-24 10:05
It's that time of year when Lubuntu asks the community to contribute an artistic touch to the distribution. We know... We're late... But here we go again! Please feel free to join us at Flickr and upload your favourite creation, that's right, one submission per user this time. Submissions are accepted until 4th September 23:59:59 UTC+01:00, and the polls will open shortly after that. The polls

Daniel Pocock: Want to be selected for Google Summer of Code 2015?

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2014-08-23 11:37

I've mentored a number of students in 2013 and 2014 for Debian and Ganglia and most of the companies I've worked with have run internships and graduate programs from time to time. GSoC 2014 has just finished and with all the excitement, many students are already asking what they can do to prepare and become selected in 2015.

My own observation is that the more time the organization has to get to know the student, the more confident they can be selecting that student. Furthermore, the more time that the student has spent getting to know the free software community, the more easily they can complete GSoC.

Here I present a list of things that students can do to maximize their chance of selection and career opportunities at the same time. These tips are useful for people applying for GSoC itself and related programs such as GNOME's Outreach Program for Women or graduate placements in companies.


There is no guarantee that Google will run the program again in 2015 or any future year.

There is no guarantee that any organization or mentor (including myself) will be involved until the official list of organizations is published by Google.

Do not follow the advice of web sites that invite you to send pizza or anything else of value to prospective mentors.

Following the steps in this page doesn't guarantee selection. That said, people who do follow these steps are much more likely to be considered and interviewed than somebody who hasn't done any of the things in this list.

Understand what free software really is

You may hear terms like free software and open source software used interchangeably.

They don't mean exactly the same thing and many people use the term free software for the wrong things. Not all open source projects meet the definition of free software. Those that don't, usually as a result of deficiencies in their licenses, are fundamentally incompatible with the majority of software that does use approved licenses.

Google Summer of Code is about both writing and publishing your code and it is also about community. It is fundamental that you know the basics of licensing and how to choose a free license that empowers the community to collaborate on your code.

Please read up on this topic early on and come back and review this from time to time. The The GNU Project / Free Software Foundation have excellent resources to help you understand what a free software license is and how it works to maximize community collaboration.

Don't look for shortcuts

There is no shortcut to GSoC selection and there is no shortcut to GSoC completion.

The student stipend (USD $5,500 in 2014) is not paid to students unless they complete a minimum amount of valid code. This means that even if a student did find some shortcut to selection, it is unlikely they would be paid without completing meaningful work.

If you are the right candidate for GSoC, you will not need a shortcut anyway. Are you the sort of person who can't leave a coding problem until you really feel it is fixed, even if you keep going all night? Have you ever woken up in the night with a dream about writing code still in your head? Do you become irritated by tedious or repetitive tasks and often think of ways to write code to eliminate such tasks? Does your family get cross with you because you take your laptop to Christmas dinner or some other significant occasion and start coding? If some of these statements summarize the way you think or feel you are probably a natural fit for GSoC.

An opportunity money can't buy

The GSoC stipend will not make you rich. It is intended to make sure you have enough money to survive through the summer and focus on your project. Professional developers make this much money in a week in leading business centers like New York, London and Singapore. When you get to that stage in 3-5 years, you will not even remember exactly how much you made during internships.

GSoC gives you an edge over other internships because it involves publicly promoting your work. Many companies still try to hide the potential of their best recruits for fear they will be poached or that they will be able to demand higher salaries. Everything you complete in GSoC is intended to be published and you get full credit for it. Imagine an amateur musician getting the opportunity to perform on the main stage at a rock festival. This is how the free software community works.

Having a portfolio of free software that you have created or collaborated on and a wide network of professional contacts that you develop before, during and after GSoC will continue to pay you back for years. While other graduates are being screened through group interviews and testing days run by employers, people with a track record in a free software project often find they go straight to the final interview round.

Register your domain name and make a permanent email address

Free software is all about community and collaboration. Register your own domain name as this will become a focal point for your work and for people to get to know you as you become part of the community.

This is sound advice for anybody working in IT, not just programmers. It gives the impression that you are confident and have a long term interest in a technology career.

Choosing the provider: as a minimum, you want a provider that offers DNS management, static web site hosting, email forwarding and XMPP services all linked to your domain. You do not need to choose the provider that is linked to your internet connection at home and that is often not the best choice anyway. The XMPP foundation maintains a list of providers known to support XMPP.

Create an email address within your domain name. The most basic domain hosting providers will let you forward the email address to a webmail or university email account of your choice. Configure your webmail to send replies using your personalized email address in the From header.

Update your ~/.gitconfig file to use your personalized email address in your Git commits.

Create a web site and blog

Start writing a blog. Host it using your domain name.

Some people blog every day, other people just blog once every two or three months.

Create links from your web site to your other profiles, such as a Github profile page. This helps re-inforce the pages/profiles that are genuinely related to you and avoid confusion with the pages of other developers.

Many mentors are keen to see their students writing a weekly report on a blog during GSoC so starting a blog now gives you a head start. Mentors look at blogs during the selection process to try and gain insight into which topics a student is most suitable for.

Create a profile on Github

Github is one of the most widely used software development web sites. Github makes it quick and easy for you to publish your work and collaborate on the work of other people. Create an account today and get in the habbit of forking other projects, improving them, committing your changes and pushing the work back into your Github account.

Github will quickly build a profile of your commits and this allows mentors to see and understand your interests and your strengths.

In your Github profile, add a link to your web site/blog and make sure the email address you are using for Git commits (in the ~/.gitconfig file) is based on your personal domain.

Start using PGP

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is the industry standard in protecting your identity online. All serious free software projects use PGP to sign tags in Git, to sign official emails and to sign official release files.

The most common way to start using PGP is with the GnuPG (GNU Privacy Guard) utility. It is installed by the package manager on most Linux systems.

When you create your own PGP key, use the email address involving your domain name. This is the most permanent and stable solution.

Print your key fingerprint using the gpg-key2ps command, it is in the signing-party package on most Linux systems. Keep copies of the fingerprint slips with you.

This is what my own PGP fingerprint slip looks like. You can also print the key fingerprint on a business card for a more professional look.

Using PGP, it is recommend that you sign any important messages you send but you do not have to encrypt the messages you send, especially if some of the people you send messages to (like family and friends) do not yet have the PGP software to decrypt them.

If using the Thunderbird (Icedove) email client from Mozilla, you can easily send signed messages and validate the messages you receive using the Enigmail plugin.

Get your PGP key signed

Once you have a PGP key, you will need to find other developers to sign it. For people I mentor personally in GSoC, I'm keen to see that you try and find another Debian Developer in your area to sign your key as early as possible.

Free software events

Try and find all the free software events in your area in the months between now and the end of the next Google Summer of Code season. Aim to attend at least two of them before GSoC.

Look closely at the schedules and find out about the individual speakers, the companies and the free software projects that are participating. For events that span more than one day, find out about the dinners, pub nights and other social parts of the event.

Try and identify people who will attend the event who have been GSoC mentors or who intend to be. Contact them before the event, if you are keen to work on something in their domain they may be able to make time to discuss it with you in person.

Take your PGP fingerprint slips. Even if you don't participate in a formal key-signing party at the event, you will still find some developers to sign your PGP key individually. You must take a photo ID document (such as your passport) for the other developer to check the name on your fingerprint but you do not give them a copy of the ID document.

Events come in all shapes and sizes. FOSDEM is an example of one of the bigger events in Europe, is a similarly large event in Australia. There are many, many more local events such as the Debian France mini-DebConf in Lyon, 2015. Many events are either free or free for students but please check carefully if there is a requirement to register before attending.

On your blog, discuss which events you are attending and which sessions interest you. Write a blog during or after the event too, including photos.

Quantcast generously hosted the Ganglia community meeting in San Francisco, October 2013. We had a wild time in their offices with mini-scooters, burgers, beers and the Ganglia book. That's me on the pink mini-scooter and Bernard Li, one of the other Ganglia GSoC 2014 admins is on the right.

Install Linux

GSoC is fundamentally about free software. Linux is to free software what a tree is to the forest. Using Linux every day on your personal computer dramatically increases your ability to interact with the free software community and increases the number of potential GSoC projects that you can participate in.

This is not to say that people using Mac OS or Windows are unwelcome. I have worked with some great developers who were not Linux users. Linux gives you an edge though and the best time to gain that edge is now, while you are a student and well before you apply for GSoC.

If you must run Windows for some applications used in your course, it will run just fine in a virtual machine using Virtual Box, a free software solution for desktop virtualization. Use Linux as the primary operating system.

Here are links to download ISO DVD (and CD) images for some of the main Linux distributions:

If you are nervous about getting started with Linux, install it on a spare PC or in a virtual machine before you install it on your main PC or laptop. Linux is much less demanding on the hardware than Windows so you can easily run it on a machine that is 5-10 years old. Having just 4GB of RAM and 20GB of hard disk is usually more than enough for a basic graphical desktop environment although having better hardware makes it faster.

Your experiences installing and running Linux, especially if it requires some special effort to make it work with some of your hardware, make interesting topics for your blog.

Decide which technologies you know best

Personally, I have mentored students working with C, C++, Java, Python and JavaScript/HTML5.

In a GSoC program, you will typically do most of your work in just one of these languages.

From the outset, decide which language you will focus on and do everything you can to improve your competence with that language. For example, if you have already used Java in most of your course, plan on using Java in GSoC and make sure you read Effective Java (2nd Edition) by Joshua Bloch.

Decide which themes appeal to you

Find a topic that has long-term appeal for you. Maybe the topic relates to your course or maybe you already know what type of company you would like to work in.

Here is a list of some topics and some of the relevant software projects:

  • System administration, servers and networking: consider projects involving monitoring, automation, packaging. Ganglia is a great community to get involved with and you will encounter the Ganglia software in many large companies and academic/research networks. Contributing to a Linux distribution like Debian or Fedora packaging is another great way to get into system administration.
  • Desktop and user interface: consider projects involving window managers and desktop tools or adding to the user interface of just about any other software.
  • Big data and data science: this can apply to just about any other theme. For example, data science techniques are frequently used now to improve system administration.
  • Business and accounting: consider accounting, CRM and ERP software.
  • Finance and trading: consider projects like R, market data software like OpenMAMA and connectivity software (Apache Camel)
  • Real-time communication (RTC), VoIP, webcam and chat: look at the JSCommunicator or the Jitsi project
  • Web (JavaScript, HTML5): look at the JSCommunicator

Before the GSoC application process begins, you should aim to learn as much as possible about the theme you prefer and also gain practical experience using the software relating to that theme. For example, if you are attracted to the business and accounting theme, install the PostBooks suite and get to know it. Maybe you know somebody who runs a small business: help them to upgrade to PostBooks and use it to prepare some reports.

Make something

Make some small project, less than two week's work, to demonstrate your skills. It is important to make something that somebody will use for a practical purpose, this will help you gain experience communicating with other users through Github.

For an example, see the servlet Juliana Louback created for fixing phone numbers in December 2013. It has since been used as part of the Lumicall web site and Juliana was selected for a GSoC 2014 project with Debian.

There is no better way to demonstrate to a prospective mentor that you are ready for GSoC than by completing and publishing some small project like this yourself. If you don't have any immediate project ideas, many developers will also be able to give you tips on small projects like this that you can attempt, just come and ask us on one of the mailing lists.

Ideally, the project will be something that you would use anyway even if you do not end up participating in GSoC. Such projects are the most motivating and rewarding and usually end up becoming an example of your best work. To continue the example of somebody with a preference for business and accounting software, a small project you might create is a plugin or extension for PostBooks.

Getting to know prospective mentors

Many web sites provide useful information about the developers who contribute to free software projects. Some of these developers may be willing to be a GSoC mentor.

For example, look through some of the following:

Getting on the mentor's shortlist

Once you have identified projects that are interesting to you and developers who work on those projects, it is important to get yourself on the developer's shortlist.

Basically, the shortlist is a list of all students who the developer believes can complete the project. If I feel that a student is unlikely to complete a project or if I don't have enough information to judge a student's probability of success, that student will not be on my shortlist.

If I don't have any student on my shortlist, then a project will not go ahead at all. If there are multiple students on the shortlist, then I will be looking more closely at each of them to try and work out who is the best match.

One way to get a developer's attention is to look at bug reports they have created. Github makes it easy to see complaints or bug reports they have made about their own projects or other projects they depend on. Another way to do this is to search through their code for strings like FIXME and TODO. Projects with standalone bug trackers like the Debian bug tracker also provide an easy way to search for bug reports that a specific person has created or commented on.

Once you find some relevant bug reports, email the developer. Ask if anybody else is working on those issues. Try and start with an issue that is particularly easy and where the solution is interesting for you. This will help you learn to compile and test the program before you try to fix any more complicated bugs. It may even be something you can work on as part of your academic program.

Find successful projects from the previous year

Contact organizations and ask them which GSoC projects were most successful. In many organizations, you can find the past students' project plans and their final reports published on the web. Read through the plans submitted by the students who were chosen. Then read through the final reports by the same students and see how they compare to the original plans.

Start building your project proposal now

Don't wait for the application period to begin. Start writing a project proposal now.

When writing a proposal, it is important to include several things:

  • Think big: what is the goal at the end of the project? Does your work help the greater good in some way, such as increasing the market share of Linux on the desktop?
  • Details: what are specific challenges? What tools will you use?
  • Time management: what will you do each week? Are there weeks where you will not work on GSoC due to vacation or other events? These things are permitted but they must be in your plan if you know them in advance. If an accident or death in the family cut a week out of your GSoC project, which work would you skip and would your project still be useful without that? Having two weeks of flexible time in your plan makes it more resilient against interruptions.
  • Communication: are you on mailing lists, IRC and XMPP chat? Will you make a weekly report on your blog?
  • Users: who will benefit from your work?
  • Testing: who will test and validate your work throughout the project? Ideally, this should involve more than just the mentor.

If your project plan is good enough, could you put it on Kickstarter or another crowdfunding site? This is a good test of whether or not a project is going to be supported by a GSoC mentor.

Learn about packaging and distributing software

Packaging is a vital part of the free software lifecycle. It is very easy to upload a project to Github but it takes more effort to have it become an official package in systems like Debian, Fedora and Ubuntu.

Packaging and the communities around Linux distributions help you reach out to users of your software and get valuable feedback and new contributors. This boosts the impact of your work.

To start with, you may want to help the maintainer of an existing package. Debian packaging teams are existing communities that work in a team and welcome new contributors. The Debian Mentors initiative is another great starting place. In the Fedora world, the place to start may be in one of the Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

Think from the mentor's perspective

After the application deadline, mentors have just 2 or 3 weeks to choose the students. This is actually not a lot of time to be certain if a particular student is capable of completing a project. If the student has a published history of free software activity, the mentor feels a lot more confident about choosing the student.

Some mentors have more than one good student while other mentors receive no applications from capable students. In this situation, it is very common for mentors to send each other details of students who may be suitable. Once again, if a student has a good Github profile and a blog, it is much easier for mentors to try and match that student with another project.


Getting into the world of software engineering is much like joining any other profession or even joining a new hobby or sporting activity. If you run, you probably have various types of shoe and a running watch and you may even spend a couple of nights at the track each week. If you enjoy playing a musical instrument, you probably have a collection of sheet music, accessories for your instrument and you may even aspire to build a recording studio in your garage (or you probably know somebody else who already did that).

The things listed on this page will not just help you walk the walk and talk the talk of a software developer, they will put you on a track to being one of the leaders. If you look over the profiles of other software developers on the Internet, you will find they are doing most of the things on this page already. Even if you are not selected for GSoC at all or decide not to apply, working through the steps on this page will help you clarify your own ideas about your career and help you make new friends in the software engineering community.

Valorie Zimmerman: Counting the days until Akademy!

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2014-08-23 02:49
It seems so soon after returning home from Randa and Geneva, but already the day of departure to Vienna and then Brno looms. So excited! For starters, both Scarlett and I got funding from Ubuntu so the e.V. is spared the cost of our travel! I've often felt guilty about how much airfare from Seattle is, for previous meetings. We're having a Kubuntu gathering on Thursday the 11th of September. Ping us if you have an issue you want discussed or worked on.

Also, Scarlett and I will be traveling together, which will be fun. And we're meeting Stefan Derkits in Vienna, to see some of his favorite places. Oh, a whole day in Vienna seems like heaven. We have a hostel booked; I hope it's nice. Now I need to figure out the bus or train from Vienna <> Brno.

Get your own banner at
Then there is the e.V. annual meeting, which I enjoy since I was admitted to membership. It is great to hear the reports personally, and meet people I usually only hear from in email or IRC.

Finally, there is Akademy, which is always a blur of excitement, learning, socializing, and interacting with the amazing speakers. My favorite part is always hearing from the GSoC students about their projects, and their experience in the KDE community. After Akademy proper, there are days of BOFs, and our Kubuntu meeting. This part is often the most energizing, as each meeting is like a small-scale sprint.

Of course we do take some time to walk through the city, and eat out, and party a bit. Face-to-face meetings are the BEST! Sometimes we return home exhausted and jetlagged, but it is always worth it. KDE is a community, and our annual gathering is one important way for us to nurture that community. This energizes the entire next year of creating amazing software.

An extra-special part of Akademy this year is that we are planning to release our new KDE Frameworks 5 Cookbook at Akademy. Get some while they're hot!

Ben Howard: Archive-triggered Cloud Image Builds

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 2014-08-22 18:11
For years, the Ubuntu Cloud Images have been built on a timer (i.e. cronjob or Jenkins). Every week, you can reasonably expect that stable and LTS releases to be built twice a week while our development build is build once a day.  Each of these builds is given a serial in the form of YYYYMMDD. 

While time-based building has proven to be reliable, different build serials may be functionally the same, just put together at a different point in time. Many of the builds that we do for stable and LTS releases are pointless.

When the whole heartbleed fiasco hit, it put the Cloud Image team into over-drive, since it required manually triggering builds the LTS releases. When we manually trigger builds, it takes roughly 12-16 hours to build, QA, test and release new Cloud Images. Sure, most of this is automated, but the process had to be manually started by a human. This got me thinking: there has to be a better way.

What if we build the Cloud Images when the package set changes?

With that, I changed the Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) build process from time-based to archive trigger-based. Now, instead of building every day at 00:30 UTC, the build starts when the archive has been updated and the packages in the prior cloud image build is older than the archive version. In the last three days, there were eight builds for Utopic. For a development version of Ubuntu, this just means that developers don't have to wait 24 hours for the latest package changes to land in a Cloud Image.

Over the next few weeks, I will be moving the 10.04 LTS, 12.04 LTS and 14.04 LTS build processes from time to archive trigger-based. While this might result less frequent daily builds, the main advantage is that the daily builds will contain the latest package sets. And if you are trying to respond to the latest CVE, or waiting on a bug fix to land, it likely means that you'll have a fresh daily that you can use the following day.

Jonathan Riddell: Do you need to be brain damaged to care about desktop Linux? and Kubuntu day at Akademy

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 2014-08-22 16:34
KDE Project:

After sell out dates in Glasgow and Belgium the tour of my dramatic talk "Do you need to be brain damaged to care about desktop Linux?" is making a stop in Brno for the KDE Conference Akademy. In it I'll talk about the struggles of recoving from a head injury mixed with creating a beautiful and friendly Linux distro: Kubuntu. It'll have drame, it'll have emotion, it'll have a discussion of the relative merits of community against in-house development. Make sure you book your tickets now!

Also at Akademy is the Kubuntu day on Thursday, sign up now if you want to come and talk about your ideas or grumble about your problems with Kubuntu. Free hugs will be in store.


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