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Valorie Zimmerman: Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-09-01 08:04
Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Interesting, engaging, and sometimes challenging. My only criticism of the book is that he dwells a bit on fads in academia which are fading, but since he's been extensively challenged by that crowd, I suppose it is forgivable.

I'll quote extensively from the last chapter, but first, Emily Dickinson (quoted in that final chapter):
The Brain--is wider than the Sky--
For--put them side to side--
The one the other will contain
With ease--and you--beside-- The Brain is deeper than the sea--
For--hold them--Blue to Blue--
The one the other will absorb--
As Sponges--Buckets--do-- The Brain is just the weight of God--
For--Heft them--Pound for Pound--
And they will differ--if they do--
As Syllable from Sound--And the beginning of the final chapter:
The Blank Slate was an attractive vision. It promised to make racism, sexism, and class prejudice factually untenable. It appeared to be a bulwark against the kind of thinking that led to ethnic genocide. It aimed to prevent people from slipping into a premature fatalism about preventable social ills. It put the spotlight on the treatment of children, indigenous peoples, and the underclass. The Blank Slate thus became part of secular faith and appeared to constitute the common decency of our age.  But the Blank Slate had, and has, a dark side. The vacuum that was posited in human nature was eagerly filled by totalitarian regimes, and it did nothing to prevent their genocides. It perverts education, child-rearing, and the arts into forms of social engineering. It torments mothers who work outside the home and parents whose children did not turn out as they would have liked. It threatens to outlaw biomedical research that could alleviate human suffering. Its corollary, the Noble Savage, invites contempt for the principles of democracy and of "a government of laws not of men." It blinds us to our cognitive and moral shortcomings. And in matters of policy it has elevated sappy dogmas above the search for workable solutions. The Blank Slate is not some ideal that we should all hope and pray is true. No, it is anti-life, anti-human theoretical abstraction that denies our common humanity, our inherent interests, and our individual preferences. Though it has pretensions of celebrating our potential, it does the opposite, because our potential comes from the combinatorial interplay of wonderfully complex faculties, not from the passive blankness of an empty tablet. Regardless of its good and bad effects, the Blank Slate is an empirical hypothesis about the functioning of the brain and must be evaluated in terms of whether or not it is true. The modern sciences of mind, brain, genes, and evolution are increasingly showing that it is not true. The result is a rearguard effort to salvage the Blank Slate by disfiguring science and intellectual life: denying the possibility of objectivity and truth, dumbing down issues into dichotomies, replacing facts and logic with intellectual posturing. The Blank Slate became so deeply entrenched in intellectual life that the prospect of doing without it can be deeply unsettling. ...Is science leading to a place where prejudice is right, where children may be neglected, where Machiavellianism is accepted, where inequality and violence are met with resignation, where people are treated like machines? Not at all! By unhandcuffing widely shared values from moribund factual dogmas, the rationale for these values can only become clearer. We understand *why* we condemn prejudice, cruelty to children, and violence against women, and can focus our efforts on how to implement the goals we value most. ... ... Acknowledging human nature does not mean overturning our personal world views... It means only taking intellectual life out of its parallel universe and reuniting it with science and, when it is borne out by science, by common sense.This book was published in 2002, and I think Pinker and his fellow scientists who investigate human nature are beginning to make headway. This book was a good reminder of some of the nonsense we are now sweeping into the dustbin of history, and new understanding of human nature now coming to light.

Costales: Folder Color: New custom color for each folder

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2014-08-31 15:23
I developed this little (but really useful) improvement to Folder Color: Now, you can choose a custom color for each folder in our Ubuntu!

New improvement: Choose a custom color
What is Folder Color?
It's an application for changing the color of a folder in Ubuntu with just a right-click. Really useful for easily spotting folders in 12 preconfigured colours!

Easy, fast and useful
Let's see a video with Folder Color in action!

How can you install?
  • In a Terminal from the PPA:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:costales/folder-color
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install folder-color
  • If you have already installed Folder Color from the PPA, just update your system:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install folder-color
You need to logout from your current session (or kill nautilus with nautilus -q) after the installation.

What do you need?
Just Ubuntu (or derivate) & Nautilus, the file browser by default in Ubuntu :)

+info: Oficial web.

Svetlana Belkin: Why do I Use Open Source?

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2014-08-30 19:03

I decided to respond to Michael Hall’s post, “Why do you contribute to open source?“, but first I will explain why I use open source and in the next post, I will explain why I contribute to it.  I don’t only use it because it’s almost free to use but for the intuitive sense of things that I see in all of the programs that I use.  This intuitive sense matches up with the way that I think and how I do things.

I have three examples why I use Open Source:

Example One: Evernote Ink Notes vs. Xournal- A Shift in My Workflow

This example is a recent thing that happened to me.  On Monday, August, 25, 2014 (first day of my last school year of my undergrad years), I was able to restore my Nexus 7 2013 back to Android from Ubuntu Touch since Ubuntu Touch wasn’t worth while to use (for now) as a working tablet.  For those who want to know, you need at least 2 GB of RAM to use the ./ command.  I only restored my tablet- meaning that I didn’t brother to install a custom ROM on it (don’t ask me why).  After I restored, I installed the Evernote app and signed in to it.  The hour before I restored my tablet, I was in my eight A.M. class and I took hand-written notes on my netbook, Evernote Ink Notes, and my Wacom Intous 4 pen and tablet.  When I opened the notes on my tablet and they looked horrible!  Not because I have chicken scratch for my handwriting (it does get bad at times) but because it was zoomed in and I had to finger scroll.  I had no way to zoom out.  And the UX of the app is just not fun to use.

After that first use of the Evernote, I decided to go back and use my favorite handwritten note-taking program, Xournal, but with some tweaks.  One of them being all of my notes for one class is be one file, when possible, which is for my eight A.M. class.  The other one is be convert the presentation slides for my second and also last class (I have two this term) into PDF and annotate that PDF.

The only problem with this workflow is that Xournal is X based not Qt based.  That means when Mir and Unity 8 comes out, I won’t be able to use my favorite program!  But maybe I could work with some developers and get some of the features of Xournal into the Reminders app.

Example Two: Open Source has More Intuitive Minds

I have noticed that many of the programs that I use have features that are latter used in non-open source programs.  Who had tabs first in Internet browsers?  Firefox.  Conversion from a word/spreadsheet/presentation to PDF?  OpenOffice.  This goes to show that who are more daring to be more intuitive.

When Unity first introduced back in Ubuntu 11.04, it was hard for me to get used to it at first.  I think it took me maybe two months to tell myself to that is the change can be good.  After I installed 11.04, I saw that Unity increased my productivity.  I found that searching in the Dash of Unity was faster than scrolling and clicking through folders on the menu.  Unity is quiet intuitive to my mind and it was here before Windows 8.  Another example of open source having more intuitive minds.

Example three will be in my next post when I will talk about why I contribute to Open Source.  Most likely, I will have a series of posts about why I’m in the FOSS community and other subjects such as why I blog.


José Antonio Rey: FOSSETCON in two weeks – See you there!

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2014-08-30 16:28

A while ago I posted about FOSSETCON (Free and Open Source Software Expo and Technology Conference), but now the time has come. In less than two weeks the conference will be taking place, and I cannot wait to fly over there!

FOSSETCON will start on Thursday, September 11th with day 0. We will have an Ubucon the whole day! Panels, workshops, make sure you don’t miss it. I’ll be flying during that day and hope I can get there at least for the last session.

During the 12th and 13th there will be an expo hall, as well as several talks! I will be with the Ubuntu Florida LoCo Team in the Ubuntu booth. Make sure to visit us there if you want to take a look at the Ubuntu phones and tablets, and maybe get some swag? Who knows.

On the other hand, I will be hosting a 40-minute Juju Charm School during day 1 (September 12th) at 10:30am local time. Make sure to attend if you wanna get a glimpse of what’s up with Juju and all the things you can do with it, including a bit of development.

In case you’re wondering. Yes, I will have the so-loved Orange Box! If you want to see it in action or just give it a hug, make sure to go to FOSSETCON!

You can buy your tickets for FOSSETCON by clicking here. There are three ticket options: the Training Pass, the Conference Pass and the Supporter Pass. You can find more information about each ticket type on the link.

Also, if you have already got your copy of the Official Ubuntu Book, 8th edition and want me to sign it for you, I will be more than happy to.

Don’t be shy and say hi, maybe we can grab a coffee after conference hours. See you all there!

Costales: Destino Ubuconla 2014 - #11 The End

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 2014-08-29 18:27
Antes del viaje todo el mundo me advertía de que Colombia es un país muy peligroso para el turista... ¡Colombia... ays Colombia! ¡Qué país! El viajero encontrará paisajes extraordinarios, vertiginosas ciudades llenas de historia grabada a fuego durante siglos, una gastronomía exquisita y su gente que hace a este país especial, al ritmo de su música rumbera, abiertos, alegres y muy hospitalarios. Como bromean por aquí, el peligro es que te quieras quedar :P

perdiéndose por los mercados callejeros
de sus callesy disfrutando el alma de este pueblocon sus junglas de asfaltoy sus junglas reales(jue con la 'hormiguita')... hasta el infinito y más allá
Del viaje en particular podría destacar muchísimas cosas, las playas, las islas, los pueblos, las ciudades, la gastronomía, incluso el calor sofocante; pero no, no voy a destacar nada de todo eso.
Destaco los momentos únicos con personas únicas, que hicieron de este viaje, un viaje único ;) ¡Gracias a todos/as! ¡Hasta la próxima!

Next station? El destino dirá
Todas las entradas del viaje:

Gracias a todos/as por 'acompañarnos' en este relato
... The end ...

Costales: Destino Ubuconla 2014 - #10 Lisboa

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 2014-08-29 17:04
Engullimos como patos el extraordinario desayuno buffet. El motivo no es otro que teníamos el tiempo muy justo por salir temprano el avión.

Antes de despegar de Bogotá Avianca nos obligó a pagar el ESTA americano (14$), en caso contrario, la multaban.
Tras aterrizar en la ciudad de Dexter Morgan debemos entregar 'voluntariamente' pasaporte, datos personales, declaración de aduana, declaración ESTA, que nos tomen las huellas dactilares y foto... ¡Ni mi propio gobierno sabe ahora tanto de mi como USA! Y eso que sólo queríamos cambiar de avión.
También me sorprendieron las cámaras en el aeropuerto, una cada 20m.
En Bogotá nos habían dicho que el equipaje lo recogíamos en Lisboa, pero nos enteramos de casualidad de que había que cogerlo en la cinta de maletas de Miami para llevarlo a un mostrador a 50m ?:O No quedaron las maletas en Miami de milagro.

Y tras el vuelo de 7 horas y pico de avión desde Miami, llegamos a Lisboa.
La capital estaba amaneciendo y prestó pasear sus calles y plazas desiertas.
¿Dónde está la gente?
Eso sí, durante demasiadas horas nuestro radio de acción consistió en 250m desde el punto de información turística (la razón no es otra que nuestra diarrea seguía a su ritmo y ahí había un baño público de pago).
(:   [TSA|TP] + NEDescansamos en el hotel toda la tarde, posiblemente debido al jetlag. Y a la hora de cenar disfrutamos de sardinas y bonito, acompañados de un excelente vino verde.

Intentando olvidar el jetlagAl día siguiente tocó volver p'Asturies, tras un viaje exprimido hasta en su último minuto, pero ese resumen pertenece al post final :)

Ñam, ñam...
Al otru lláu de la mar... Colombia :)
Y nos encontramos con el día más caluroso del año
Continúa leyendo más de este viaje.

Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S07E22 – The One with the Joke

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 2014-08-29 16:34

We’re back with Season Seven, Episode Twenty of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson, and Laura Cowen are drinking tea and eating homemade tiffin in Studio L.

 Download OGG  Download MP3 Play in Popup

In this week’s show:

  • We interview Daniel Holbach from the Ubuntu Community Team…

  • We also discuss:

    • Playing with old console games…
    • Raising a bug on Ubuntu…
    • Attending JISC SOC Innovation…
  • We share some Command Line Lurve that sets up a Socks proxy on localhost port xxx which you can use to (say) browse the web from some_host (from @MartijnVdS): ssh -D xxx some_host
  • And we read your feedback. Thanks for sending it in!

We’ll be back next week, so please send your comments and suggestions to:
Join us on IRC in #uupc on Freenode
Leave a voicemail via phone: +44 (0) 203 298 1600, sip: and skype: ubuntuukpodcast
Follow us on Twitter
Find our Facebook Fan Page
Follow us on Google+

Ronnie Tucker: Full Circle #88 is out NOW!

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 2014-08-29 16:03

This month:
* Command & Conquer
* How-To : Minimal Ubuntu Install, LibreOffice, and GRUB2.
* Graphics : Blender and Inkscape.
* Linux Labs: Ripping DVDs with Handdrake, and Compiling a Kernel
* Arduino
plus: Q&A, Security, Ubuntu Games, and soooo much more.

ALSO: Don’t forget to search for ‘full circle magazine’ on Google Play/Books.


Ubuntu GNOME: [Voting] Ubuntu GNOME 14.10 Wallpaper Contest

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 2014-08-29 11:59


This is our second official Wallpaper Contest for Ubuntu GNOME and this time, it is for Utopic Unicorn.

We ask our community to help us to vote for your desired wallpaper.

To vote, kindly click at this link.

Contest Rules

  • Contest ends on 05-09-2014
  • You have to vote on at least 1 photo
  • You can vote on max 3 photos

As per this email form Ubuntu GNOME Artwork Team, there will be 10 wallpapers to be chosen and these will be included with Ubuntu GNOME 14.10 by default.

We appreciate your time to vote and your help.

Thank you!

On behalf of Ubuntu GNOME Artwork Team

Kubuntu Wire: Kubuntu on LinkedIn

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 2014-08-29 09:43

We can sit in our own nerdy world in open source communities too much so at Kubuntu we have been setting up social media forums and we have just added a LinkedIn page for Kubuntu which should get the usual news stories of new releases and updates.  There is also a Kubuntu Users group on LinkedIn if you want to share experiences with people who like to take more of a business approach to their computers than users of other social media websites.

14.10 Beta 1 is out, you can give us feedback on Google + or Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin

Daniel Pocock: Welcoming libphonenumber to Debian and Ubuntu

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 2014-08-29 08:02

Google's libphonenumber is a universal library for parsing, validating, identifying and formatting phone numbers. It works quite well for numbers from just about anywhere. Here is a Java code sample (C++ and JavaScript also supported) from their web site:

String swissNumberStr = "044 668 18 00";
PhoneNumberUtil phoneUtil = PhoneNumberUtil.getInstance();
try {
  PhoneNumber swissNumberProto = phoneUtil.parse(swissNumberStr, "CH");
} catch (NumberParseException e) {
  System.err.println("NumberParseException was thrown: " + e.toString());
boolean isValid = phoneUtil.isValidNumber(swissNumberProto); // returns true
// Produces "+41 44 668 18 00"
System.out.println(phoneUtil.format(swissNumberProto, PhoneNumberFormat.INTERNATIONAL));
// Produces "044 668 18 00"
System.out.println(phoneUtil.format(swissNumberProto, PhoneNumberFormat.NATIONAL));
// Produces "+41446681800"
System.out.println(phoneUtil.format(swissNumberProto, PhoneNumberFormat.E164));

This is particularly useful for anybody working with international phone numbers. This is a common requirement in the world of VoIP where people mix-and-match phones and hosted PBXes in different countries and all their numbers have to be normalized.

About the packages

The new libphonenumber package provides support for C++ and Java users. Upstream also supports JavaScript but that hasn't been packaged yet.

Using libphonenumber from Evolution and other software

Lumicall, the secure SIP/ZRTP client for Android, has had libphonenumber from the beginning. It is essential when converting dialed numbers into E.164 format to make ENUM queries and it is also helpful to normalize all the numbers before passing them to VoIP gateways.

Debian includes the GNOME Evolution suite and it will use libphonenumber to improve handling of phone numbers in contact records if enabled at compile time. Fredrik has submitted a patch for that in Debian.

Many more applications can potentially benefit from this too. libphonenumber is released under an Apache license so it is compatible with the Mozilla license and suitable for use in Thunderbird plugins.

Improving libphonenumber

It is hard to keep up with the changes in dialing codes around the world. Phone companies and sometimes even whole countries come and go from time to time. Numbering plans change to add extra digits. New prefixes are created for new mobile networks. libphonenumber contains metadata for all the countries and telephone numbers that the authors are aware of but they also welcome feedback through their mailing list for anything that is not quite right.

Now that libphonenumber is available as a package, it may be helpful for somebody to try and find a way to split the metadata from the code so that metadata changes could be distributed through the stable updates catalog along with other volatile packages such as anti-virus patterns.

Robert Collins: Test processes as servers

Planet Ubuntu - Fri, 2014-08-29 04:10

Since its very early days subunit has had a single model – you run a process, it outputs test results. This works great, except when it doesn’t.

On the up side, you have a one way pipeline – there’s no interactivity needed, which makes it very very easy to write a subunit backend that e.g. testr can use.

On the downside, there’s no interactivity, which means that anytime you want to do something with those tests, a new process is needed – and thats sometimes quite expensive – particularly in test suites with 10’s of thousands of tests.Now, for use in the development edit-execute loop, this is arguably ok, because one needs to load the new tests into memory anyway; but wouldn’t it be nice if tools like testr that run tests for you didn’t have to decide upfront exactly how they were going to run. If instead they could get things running straight away and then give progressively larger and larger units of work to be run, without forcing a new process (and thus new discovery directory walking and importing) ? Secondly, testr has an inconsistent interface – if testr is letting a user debug things to testr through to child workers in a chain, it needs to use something structured (e.g. subunit) and route stdin to the actual worker, but the final testr needs to unwrap everything – this is needlessly complex. Lastly, for some languages at least, its possibly to dynamically pick up new code at runtime – so a simple inotify loop and we could avoid new-process (and more importantly complete-enumeration) *entirely*, leading to very fast edit-test cycles.

So, in this blog post I’m really running this idea up the flagpole, and trying to sketch out the interface – and hopefully get feedback on it.

Taking as an example process to do this to:

  1. There should be an option to change from one-shot to server mode
  2. In server mode, it will listen for commands somewhere (lets say stdin)
  3. On startup it might eager load the available tests
  4. One command would be list-tests – which would enumerate all the tests to its output channel (which is stdout today – so lets stay with that for now)
  5. Another would be run-tests, which would take a set of test ids, and then filter-and-run just those ids from the available tests, output, as it does today, going to stdout. Passing somewhat large sets of test ids in may be desirable, because some test runners perform fixture optimisations (e.g. bringing up DB servers or web servers) and test-at-a-time is pretty much worst case for that sort of environment.
  6. Another would be be std-in a command providing a packet of stdin – used for interacting with debuggers

So that seems pretty approachable to me – we don’t even need an async loop in there, as long as we’re willing to patch select etc (for the stdin handling in some environments like Twisted). If we don’t want to monkey patch like that, we’ll need to make stdin a socketpair, and have an event loop running to shepard bytes from the real stdin to the one we let the rest of Python have.

What about that nirvana above? If we assume inotify support, then list_tests (and run_tests) can just consult a changed-file list and reload those modules before continuing. Reloading them just-in-time would be likely to create havoc – I think reloading only when synchronised with test completion makes a great deal of sense.

Would such a test server make sense in other languages?  What about e.g. vs – such a server wouldn’t want to use subunit, but perhaps a regular CLI UI would be nice…

The Fridge: Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) beta-1 released!

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-08-28 21:56

The first beta of the Utopic Unicorn (to become 14.10) has now been released!

This beta features images for Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, UbuntuKylin, Xubuntu and the Ubuntu Cloud images.

Pre-releases of the Utopic Unicorn are *not* encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu flavor developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting and fixing bugs as we work towards getting this release ready.

Beta 1 includes a number of software updates that are ready for wider testing. This is quite an early set of images, so you should expect some bugs.

While these Beta 1 images have been tested and work, except as noted in the release notes, Ubuntu developers are continuing to improve the Utopic Unicorn. In particular, once newer daily images are available, system installation bugs identified in the Beta 1 installer should be verified against the current daily image before being reported in Launchpad. Using an obsolete image to re-report bugs that have already been fixed wastes your time and the time of developers who are busy trying to make 14.10 the best Ubuntu release yet. Always ensure your system is up to date before reporting bugs.


Kubuntu is the KDE based flavour of Ubuntu. It uses the Plasma desktop and includes a wide selection of tools from the KDE project.

Kubuntu development is now focussing on the next generation of KDE Software, Plasma 5. This is not yet stable enough for everyday use, so our default option is the trusted Plasma 4 desktop. A tech preview of Plasma 5 is available for those who want to try out the future.

The Beta-1 images can be downloaded at:

More information on Kubuntu Beta-1 can be found here:


Lubuntu is a flavor of Ubuntu based on LXDE and focused on providing a very lightweight distribution.

Lubuntu development is currently focused on the transition away from GTK+ to the Qt framework. This is not stable enough for everyday use, so the focus this version is on fixing bugs.

The Beta 1 images can be downloaded at:

Ubuntu GNOME

Ubuntu GNOME is a flavor of Ubuntu featuring the GNOME desktop environment.

The Beta-1 images can be downloaded at:

More information on Ubuntu GNOME Beta-1 can be found here:


UbuntuKylin is a flavor of Ubuntu that is more suitable for Chinese users.

The Beta-1 images can be downloaded at:

More information on UbuntuKylin Beta-1 can be found here:


Xubuntu is a flavor of Ubuntu shipping with the XFCE desktop environment.

The Beta-1 images can be downloaded at:

More information on Xubuntu Beta-1 can be found here:

Ubuntu Cloud

These images can be run on Amazon EC2, Openstack, SmartOS and many other clouds. Beta-1 images have been published to Windows Azure and Amazon EC2.

Regular daily images for Ubuntu Cloud can be found at:

Daily Images

Regular daily images for Ubuntu can be found at:

If you’re interested in following the changes as we further develop Utopic, we suggest that you subscribe to the ubuntu-devel-announce list. This is a low-traffic list (a few posts a week) carrying announcements of approved specifications, policy changes, beta releases and other interesting events.

A big thank you to the developers and testers for their efforts to pull together this Beta release!

Originally posted to the ubuntu-devel-announce mailing list on Thu Aug 28 21:04:39 UTC 2014 by Stéphane Graber

Lubuntu Blog: Lubuntu Utopic Unicorn 14.10 β1

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-08-28 21:45
We’re preparing Lubuntu 14.10, the Utopic Unicorn, for distribution in October 2014. With this early Beta pre-release, you can see what we are trying out in preparation for our next version (with Ubuntu Linux kernel). Remember that this is an early beta pre-release, so don't use it on daily production computers.

We'd like you to join us for testing, especially if you have a PPC machine. We didn't have PPC testers this release, do there is no PPC release.

Read the release notes before getting the disc images, and contact us with feedback.

Ubuntu GNOME: Utopic Unicorn Beta 1

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-08-28 21:22


Ubuntu GNOME Team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu GNOME Utopic Unicorn Beta 1.

Please do read the release notes.


This is Beta 1 Release. Ubuntu GNOME Beta Releases are NOT recommended for:

  • Regular users who are not aware of pre-release issues
  • Anyone who needs a stable system
  • Anyone uncomfortable running a possibly frequently broken system
  • Anyone in a production environment with data or workflows that need to be reliable

Ubuntu GNOME Beta Releases are recommended for:

  • Regular users who want to help us test by finding, reporting, and/or fixing bugs
  • Ubuntu GNOME developers

To help with testing Ubuntu GNOME:
Please see Testing Ubuntu GNOME Wiki Page.

To contact Ubuntu GNOME:
Please see our full list of contact channels.

Thank you for choosing and testing Ubuntu GNOME!

Xubuntu: Xubuntu 14.10 Beta 1 is released!

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-08-28 21:16

The Xubuntu team is pleased to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 14.10 Beta 1. This is the first beta towards the final release in October. Before this beta we have landed various of enhancements and some new features. Now it’s time to start polishing the last edges and improve the stability.

The first beta release also marks the end of the period to land new features in the form of Ubuntu Feature Freeze. This means any new updates to packages should be bug fixes only, the Xubuntu team is committed to fixing as many of the bugs as possible before the final release.

The beta 1 release is available for download by torrents and direct downloads from

Highlights and known issues New features and enhancements
  • Inxi, a tool to gather system information, is now included
  • To allow users to use pkexec for selected applications instead of gksu(do), appropriate profiles are now included for Thunar and Mousepad
  • The display dialog has been updated, multiple dispays can now be arranged by drag and drop
  • The power manager can now control the keyboard-backlight and features a new panel plugin, which shows the battery’s status, other connected devices with batteries and controls the display’s backlight brightness
  • The themes now support Gtk3.12
  • The alt-tab dialog can now be clicked with the mouse to select a window
  • Xubuntu minimal install available – information on installation and testing will follow shortly.
Bug fixes
  • Setting-related menu items earlier available only under Settings manager are now shown and searchable in Whiskermenu (1310264)
  • Presentation mode in Xfce4 power manager is now working (1193716)
  • apt-offline is now functional, previously “Something is wrong with the apt system” (1357217)
Known Issues
  • Video corruption when booting a virtual livesession (1357702)
  • Failure to configure wifi in live-session (1351590)
  • com32r error on boot with usb (1325801)
New application versions in the Xubuntu packageset
  • Catfish 1.2.1
  • Xfwm4 4.11.2
  • Updates to xfdesktop4 (4.11.7), xfce4-panel (4.11.1), login screen (lightdm-gtk-greeter 1.9.0)
  • xfce4-appfinder (4.11.0)
  • xfce4-notifyd (0.2.4-3)
  • xfce4-settings (4.11.3)
  • xfce4-power-manager (1.3.2)
  • xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin (1.4.0)
  • Light-locker-settings (1.4.0)
  • Menulibre (2.0.5)
  • Mugshot (0.2.4)
Other changes

XChat is removed from the default installation; we recommend trying the Pidgin IRC feature if you need to connect sporadically. Otherwise, if you prefer XChat, it’s still available for installation in the repositories.

Kubuntu: Kubuntu 14.10 Beta 1, Adds Plasma 5 Preview Option

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-08-28 21:10
Kubuntu 14.10 beta 1 is out now for testing by early adopters. This release comes with the stable Plasma 4 we know and love. It also adds another flavour - Kubuntu Plasma 5 Tech Preview.

Canonical Design Team: Saving on download day – caching location specific pages

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-08-28 18:34

On release day we can get up to 8,000 requests second to from people trying to download the new release. In fact, last October (13.10) was the first release day in a long time that the site didn’t crash under the load at some point during the day (huge credit to the infrastructure team). has been running on Drupal, but we’ve been gradually migrating it to a more bespoke Django based system. In March we started work on migrating the download section in time for the release of Trusty Tahr. This was a prime opportunity to look for ways to reduce some of the load on the servers.

Choosing geolocated download mirrors is hard work for an application

When someone download Ubuntu from (on a thank-you page), they are actually sent to one of the 300 or so mirror sites that’s nearby.

To pick a mirror for the user, the application has to:

  1. Decide from the client’s IP address what country they’re in
  2. Get the list of mirrors and find the ones that are in their country
  3. Randomly pick them a mirror, while sending more people to mirrors with higher bandwidth

This process is by far the most intensive operation on the whole site, not because these tasks are particularly complicated in themselves, but because this needs to be done for each and every user – potentially 8,000 a second while every other page on the site can be aggressively cached to prevent most requests from hitting the application itself.

For the site to be able to handle this load, we’d need to load-balance requests across perhaps 40 VMs.

Can everything be done client-side?

Our first thought was to embed the entire mirror list in the thank-you page and use JavaScript in the users’ browsers to select an appropriate mirror. This would drastically reduce the load on the application, because the download page would then be effectively static and cache-able like every other page.

The only way to reliably get the user’s location client-side is with the geolocation API, which is only supported by 84% of users’ browsers. Another slight issue is that the user has to give permission before they could be assigned a mirror, which would slightly hindering their experience.

This solution would inconvenience users just a bit too much. So we found a trade-off:

A mixed solution – Apache geolocation

mod_geoip2 for Apache can apply server rules based on a user’s location and is much faster than doing geolocation at the application level. This means that we can use Apache to send users to a country-specific version of the download page (e.g. the German desktop thank-you page) by adding &country=GB to the end of the URL.

These country specific pages contain the list of mirrors for that country, and each one can now be cached, vastly reducing the load on the server. Client-side JavaScript randomly selects a mirror for the user, weighted by the bandwidth of each mirror, and kicks off their download, without the need for client-side geolocation support.

This solution was successfully implemented shortly before the release of Trusty Tahr.

Zygmunt Krynicki: Checkbox Project Insights

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-08-28 17:40
Another day behind us. Another day hacking on the Checkbox Project.

Today we got a few issues on the 3.2 SRU kernel for precise. I've recorded a short explanation of how the SRU process looks like from our (Certification) perspective. We're investigating those to see if those are kernel problems or test bugs.

I've started the day by working on a few code reviews and SRU reviews. The bulk of the time was spent on the new validation subsystem for Checkbox. As before, you can see most of that via the Live Coding videos, specifically episodes #17, #18, #19 and #20) on my YouTube channel.

You can always find us, checkbox hackers in #checkbox on freenode. If you care about testing hardware with free software, join us!

Costales: Destino Ubuconla 2014 - #9 Bogotá

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-08-28 16:13
Fartamos el desayuno buffet con la idea de comer ligero, porque llegamos tarde a Bogotá y así exprimir más el poco tiempo que estuvimos en la capital de Colombia.

Perdida toda la mañana con el vuelo aéreo llegamos al hotel. Jugo de recepción, una habitación casi tan grande como una casa, jacuzzi, piscina, bar... A mirar y no tocar jajaja, no vayamos a acostumbrarnos a este nivel :P (Y mañana toca hostal en Lisboa, ¡LOL!)

Poco más hicimos en Bogotá que salir a buscar unos regalos, pero la ciudad es tan grande, que tardas muchísimas horas yendo de un punto a otro.
Una pena no haber podido tener más días para conocer BogotáConseguimos estar de vuelta justo al anochecer. Y tachán, invitados a unos jugos y a cenar :O Al final va a salir barato el hotelito :P
Jugos, jugos y más jugos, ¡están impresionantes!Al no tener el ESTA americano, Avianca no nos permitió hacer el checkin online. Por tener que estar muy temprano en el aeropuerto, lo rellenamos por Internet, pero no lo pagamos (14$/persona).

El resto de la noche tocó disfrutar del lujoso hotel.

Continúa leyendo más de este viaje.


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