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The Fridge: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 370

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 23:40

Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. This is issue #370 for the week May 26 – June 1, 2014, and the full version is available here.

In this issue we cover:

The issue of The Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter is brought to you by:

  • Elizabeth K. Joseph
  • Paul White
  • Emily Gonyer
  • And many others

If you have a story idea for the Weekly Newsletter, join the Ubuntu News Team mailing list and submit it. Ideas can also be added to the wiki!

Except where otherwise noted, content in this issue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License BY SA Creative Commons License

Raphaël Hertzog: My Free Software Activities since January 2014

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:36

If you follow my blog closely, you noticed that I skipped all my usual monthly summaries in 2014. It’s not that I stopped doing free software work, instead I was just too busy to be able to report about what I did. As an excuse, let me tell you that we just moved into a new house which was in construction since may last year.

The lack of visible activity on my blog resulted in a steady decrease of the amount of donations received (January: 70.72 €, February: 71.75 €, March: 51.25 €, April: 39.9 €, May: 40.33 €). Special thanks to all the people who kept supporting my work even though I stopped reporting about it.

So let’s fix this. This report will be a bit less detailed since it covers the whole period since the start of the year.

Debian France

Preparations related to general assemblies. The year started with lots of work related to Debian France. First I took care of setting up limesurvey with Alexandre Delanoë to handle the vote to pick our new logo:

I also helped Sylvestre Ledru to finalize and close the accounting books for 2013 in preparation for the general assembly that was due later in the month. I wrote the moral report of the president to be presented to the assembly. And last step, I collected vote mandates to ensure that we were going to meet the quorum for the extraordinary assembly that was planned just after the usual yearly assembly.

The assemblies took place during a two days mini-debconf in Paris (January 17-18) where I was obviously present even though I gave no talk besides announcing the logo contest winner and thanking people for their participation.

The Debian France members during the general assembly

It’s worth noting that the extraordinary assembly was meant primarily to enshrine in our bylaws the possibility to act as a trusted organization for Debian. This status should be officialized by the Debian project leader (Lucas Nussbaum) in the upcoming weeks since we answered satisfactorily to all questions. Our paypal donation form and the accounting tools behind it are ready.

Galette packaging and members map. I managed to hand over the package maintenance of galette to François-Régis Vuillemin. I sponsored all his uploads and we packaged a new plugin that allows to create a map with all the members who accept to share their location. The idea was to let people meet each other when they don’t live far away… with the long term goal to have Debian France organized activities not only in Paris but everywhere in France.

New contributor game. Last but not least, I organized a game to encourage people to do their first contribution to Debian by offering them a copy of my book if they managed to complete a small Debian project. We got many interesting projects but the result so far seem to be very mixed. Many people did not complete their project (yet)… that said for the few that did substantial work, it was rather good and they seem to be interested to continue to contribute.

Debian France booth at Solutions Linux in Paris. Like each year, I spent two days in Paris to help man the Debian France booth at Solutions Linux. We had lots of goodies on sale and we made more than 2000 EUR in earnings during the two days. I also used this opportunity to try to convince companies to support the new Debian LTS effort.

Tanguy Ortolo and Fernando Lagrange behind the Debian France booth

The Debian Administrator’s Handbook

In the last days of 2013, we released the wheezy update of the book. Then I quickly organized everything needed so that the various translation teams can now focus their efforts on the latest release of the book.

Later (in February) I announced the availability of the French and Spanish translations.

Debian Squeeze LTS

When the security team called for help to try to put in place long term support for Squeeze, I replied positively because I’m convinced that it’s very important if Debian wants to stay an acceptable choice in big deployments and because I knew that some of my customers would be interested…

Thus I followed all the discussions (on a semi-private list first and then on debian-lts@lists.debian.org) and contributed my own experience. I have also taken up the responsibility to coordinate with the Debian contributors who can be hired to work on Squeeze LTS so that we have a clear common offer for all the companies who have offered financial support towards Squeeze LTS. Expect further news on this front in the upcoming days/weeks.

Tryton

I have been a long time user of SQL-Ledger to manage the accounting of my company Freexian. But while the license is free software, the project is not. It’s the work of a single developer who doesn’t really accept help. I have thus been considering to move to something else for a long time but never did anything.

This year, after some rough evaluation, I decided to switch to Tryton for my company. It’s probably not a wise choice from a business perspective because that migration took me many hours of unpaid labor but from a free software perspective it’s definitely better than everything else I saw.

I contributed a lot of bug reports and a few patches already (#3596, #3631, #3633, #3665, #3667, #3694, #3695, #3696, #3697) mainly about problems found in the French chart of accounts but also about missing features for my use case.

I also accepted to sponsor Matthias Berhle, who is maintaining the official Debian packages of Tryton. He’s already a Debian maintainer so it’s mainly a matter of reviewing new source packages and granting him the required rights.

Misc Debian work
  • Updated publican to version 4 and then 4.1.2. Required a new perl module that I requested to the Perl team in
    #736816.
  • Updated to python-django-debug-toolbar and python-django-jsonfield for Django 1.6 compatibility.
  • Filed bugs on packages depending against linux-image that got dropped (on request of Ben Hutchings)
  • Filed #734866 and #734869 against bash/dash to request that they properly drop privileges in setuid context.
  • Updated gnome-shell-timer.
  • Created “Services” pages on the wiki for the PTS and its replacement.
  • Worked on distro-tracker together with the participants of the new contributor game.
  • Orphaned feed2omb with #742601.
  • Tried in vain to fight against silliness of Debian specific changes in syslinux (see #742836).
  • Preliminary EFI support in live-build (see #731709).
  • Updated python-django to 1.6.5 in unstable, 1.4.5+deb7u7 in wheezy-security and 1.6.5-1~bpo70+1 to wheezy-backports.
  • Sponsored dolibarr, python-suds, a zim backport, a ckeditor NMU to fix an RC bug, libapache2-mod-form, ledgersmb.
  • Filed bugs on the fly: #749332 (new upstream release of libjs-jquery-cookie), #749498 (problem with Files-Excluded and https URL for copyright-format 1.0), #747354 (bug in clamav-milter init script), #747101 (git-import-orig should offer a –download option).
  • Filed tickets on mirrorbrain to make it work better with Debian mirrors: update to #26 (avoid error 404 on files still available on some mirrors) and #150 (auto-disable outdated mirrors).
Thanks

See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

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Simos Xenitellis: How to count the population of flocks of birds using software

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:22

We normally see around a few birds and it is rather easy to count them. However, when there is a flock with dozens, hundreds or thousands of birds, there is need for an automated (computer-assisted) method to count the birds. Without a computer-assisted method, it is easy to over/under-estimate the count, and worst of all, there is no way to provide evidence of your count to a third-party.

There are several efforts to use software to count birds and other wildlife. Juan M. Pérez-García in The use of digital photography in censuses of large concentrations of passerines: the case of a winter starling roost-site (2010) describes how to use the UHTSCSA Image Tool 3.0 (specialized image processing software primarily for medical applications) in order to count the population of flocks. He calculates the error from the automated counting from the images. The specific software is closed-source, for Windows only and was last updated in 2002.

Another option that is suitable for bigger birds such as flamingos is described at An automatic counter for aerial images of aggregations of large birds (2011) (full text) by Arnaud Béchet et al.  A specialized program was written, called FLAMINGO (distributed under the CeCILL license, a French free and open-source software license), that can count populations of birds that their body shape is shown as an ellipse in aerial photographs.

Sample aerial image showing a flock of flamingos.

Sample aerial image showing a flock of identified flamingos. Notice the tiny black dot on each bright area.

Each bright spot most likely corresponds to a bird, and the software manages to identify and count them. Apparently, the software has been tuned to work with such low resolution images, since the airplane probably had to fly high enough in order not to disturb the flock.

Another option to count birds is DotCount by Martin Reuter . DotCount is closed-source, available for Windows and OS/X.

Estimating Starling Flock Size, about 800 birds according to DotCount (source: DotCount Sample page)

I could not get it to work reliably with my photos. It works better with pre-processed images at low resolution.

A final option is to use ImageJ, as explained by Christof, at How to count the birds in a photo of a flock – automatically! I will be repeating the instructions here, with emphasis on how to use on Ubuntu. ImageJ has been developed in Java, thus it is also available in Windows and OS/X. Check at ImageJ on how to download and install on Windows or OS/X (then, continue at step 3 below).

  1. First of all, ImageJ is available at the Software Centre in Ubuntu. Find it and install it,

    ImageJ at the Software Centre in Ubuntu

    You will notice that the icon of ImageJ will then be automatically added to the launcher.

    ImageJ icon on the launcher in Ubuntu

    The icon looks like a golden optical microscope.

  2. The version that we just installed was 1.47a, and was released in the summer of 2012. At http://imagej.nih.gov/ij/notes.html we can see that there is a more recent version. Let's update! We need to close the ImageJ application (if it is running) and then open the Terminal window. There, we run gksudo imagej   which will run ImageJ with superuser privileges. The reason why we do this, is to click on the Help → Updated ImageJ... menu, and get ImageJ to auto-update itself. Do that. Once the update is completed, we can close ImageJ and start it again from the Launcher and get the latest ImageJ!
  3. Let's start with an example. Let's count the birds at

    Image of starlings, source: http://reuter.mit.edu/software/dotcount/examples

    Right-click on the image above and save it locally in order to open with ImageJ. Then, start ImageJ and open the image.

  4. In ImageJ, click on the menu Image → Type → 8-bit  in order to convert the image to an 8-bit image. This step simplifies the image for the next step. The colors are reduced as they are not important for our counting.
  5. Then, click on the menu Image → Adjust → Threshold... With the Threshold tool we can select what information on the image to keep, and easily remove the rest. We set lower and upper thresholds, and at the same time can see in the image when the birds and just the birds appear in the special red color. Once we are happy with the threshold values, we click on Apply. By applying, the features in the image that are in red will remain, and the rest are gone.
  6. Now let's count. Click on Analyze → Analyze Particles... (see documentation at http://rsbweb.nih.gov/ij/docs/guide/146-30.html)

    ImageJ - Analyze Particles tool

    In the Size text box we can specify the range for the size of each individual bird. 0-50 means that a single pixel up to a group of 50x50 (2500) pixels will be counted as an individual bird.  Circularity describes how circular the shapes of the birds should be. Circularity 1 means a perfect circle and 0 means not a circle at all. Therefore, the value 0.00-1.00 means that we accept here any shape. Finally, we click OK in order to perform the analysis.

  7. Here is the output,

    Starlings counted, summary

    Starlings counted, details

    You can notice that the branch/stick on the upper-left of the image has not been counted as a bird due to the upper size limit that we specified. The total number of birds has been counted to 803. Obviously there should be some errors, and depending on the set of images that we work on, it is important to calculate how big that error can be (comparing with hand-counting from the photograph, etc).

Let's try with another image, a photograph straight from the camera.

Birds in the sky (original)

You need to click on the image  in order to get the full resolution (4912 x 2760). Them, click to save as an image file.

You can distinguish most of the birds at the lower-right of the image. Feel free to try to count them manually before getting the result from ImageJ.

It is helpful, after you convert the image to 8-bit, to try to subtract the background of the image. For this image, the clouds will get dull which will help with the next steps in the processing. To subtract the background, click on Process→Substract background...

Below is an animated GIF that shows a section of the original photograph, in three animated frames. The first frame is the original photograph, after the background has been subtracted. The second frame shows the birds being identified after the threshold has been applied. The third frame has the birds numbered.

You may notice that two birds have not been picked up by ImageJ as they can barely be distinguished. Another source of error is when two or more birds overlap, and are counted as one (this case is not shown in the animated GIF). These two issues contribute to the margin of error, when using ImageJ.

Birds flying in the sky (cropped)

ImageJ can accept plugins, so it is feasible to write a BirdCounting plugin that performs these steps in one go.

Bird counting is a difficult task. By taking photographs of a flock, it is possible to count them and provide evidence of the count.

No comment

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Nicholas Skaggs: Calling for your UOS users session!

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 18:24
Ubuntu Online Summit is approaching, happening on June 10th-12th.This time it's a bit different from how vUDS has been in the past. Rather than the narrower developer focus, this intends to be a full blown community summit. If you've attending things like ubuntu open week or a classroom session in the past, all of those types of sessions are welcome and encouraged too.

To help foster these types of sessions, there is a special Users track.

"The focus of the Users track is to highlight ways to get the most out of Ubuntu, on your laptop, your phone or your server. From detailed how-to sessions, to tips and tricks, and more, this track can provide something for everybody, regardless of skill level."

Track Leads:
Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph
Nicholas Skaggs
Valorie Zimmerman

I'm excitied to be a track lead for this track along with Liz and Val. We are all inviting you to consider scheduling a session to share your knowledge of ubuntu. Share an idea, discuss your passion, give a how-to, etc. The sessions in this track are meant for other users of ubuntu like yourself, so feel free to share.

Regardless of your desire to contribute a session, I would encourage everyone to take a look at the schedule as it evolves and considering joining in sessions they find interesting.
.
Remember, this track is your track and filled with your sessions. Let's help make the online summit a success.

So ready to propose a session? Checkout this page and feel free to ping Val, Liz or myself for help. Don't forget to register to attend and check out the currently scheduled sessions!

Daniel Pocock: Fixing WebRTC dropouts

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 17:20

A few people have observed dropouts using WebRTC, including the new Debian community service at rtc.debian.org

I've been going over some of these problems and made some improvements. If you tried it before and had trouble, please try again (rtc.debian.org is running with some of the fixes already).

If anybody else has seen these problems or continues to experience them, please let the reSIProcate community know about it through the repro-users mailing list.

WebSocket link disconnects immediately when call starts

In this case, you may see the picture of the other person for a split second and then the websocket link disconnects and JSCommunicator re-initializes itself.

People observing this problem had sometimes found that audio-only calls would work more frequently.

I believe one reason for this problem has been some incorrect handling of the OpenSSL error queue. I posted my observations about this on the resiprocate developer's list and included a fix for it in the recent 1.9.7 release.

Call starts, no remote picture appears, call stops after 20 seconds or so

In this case, if you look closely in the JavaScript console, you may see that one of the endpoints has sent a SIP BYE message.

A BYE message usually includes a reason such as this:

Reason: SIP ;cause=200; text="RTP Timeout"

This particular reason (RTP Timeout) may indicate that the TURN server is faulty, not running at all or is not reachable due to one or both users being behind a firewall.

If you experience this problem but some other reason code appears, please share your observations on the repro-users mailing list so it can be improved.

For those people who have firewall problems, this will eventually be resolved when the browsers support TURN over a TLS connection through a HTTP proxy. We also hope to provide better feedback in the JavaScript UI of JSCommunicator to tell people their call was blocked by a firewall.

Valorie Zimmerman: Advice

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 07:18
I try never to give advice unless I'm asked. However, tonight I thought I would offer the world the advice I give myself. This is probably not what I would have advised when I was younger, but I wish I had, every day.

Find joy and beauty everywhere, every day, every moment. It is around you; learn to see it.

Love yourself, and treat yourself with kindness.

Breathe deeply, and drink lots of water.

Love with an open heart, and care for those who love you back.

Spend no time and energy on those who pull you down, even family and "friends."

Value your opponents; they keep you honest, and learning. Collaborate with them if possible.

Make your bed every morning. Excuses are boring!

Brush and floss every tooth you want to keep. Get regular checkups, and follow the expert's advice.

Listen twice as much as you talk. That's why you have two ears, and only one mouth.

If you mess it up, clean up the mess. NOW.

Stay active, and keep challenging yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.

Do something scary as often as you dare. Travel! Make friends with strangers!

Spend your time and energy on the important, rather than being distracted by the urgent.

If you are unhappy, do something kind for someone else, secretly if possible.

Laugh, sing and dance as often as you can. Celebrate!

Paul Tagliamonte: Back from TCamp 2014

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2014-06-01 20:54

Great time, super well organized by this year’s TCamp staff. Really outstanding. Lots of really amazing discussion, and I feel a lot of effort is finally jelling around Open Civic Data, which is an absolute thrill for me.

Can’t wait to see what the next few months bring!

Adnane Belmadiaf: Canonical Sprint in Malta

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2014-05-31 15:30

Last week i was invited by Canonical to their Client Sprint in Malta among five others community Core Apps developers :

  • Andrew Hayzen and Victor Thompson : Music App developers
  • Riccardo Padovani : Calculator/Reminders App developer
  • Kunal Parmarl : Calendar App developer
  • Nekhelesh Ramananthan : Clock App developer

There have been a lot of discussions about new designs(specially the new header and bottom edge), a lot of autopilot tests fixes and sure the Core Apps devs have provided a lot of feedback about their experience using the SDK components, QTC, Click tools(packaging) and writing autopilot tests.

HTML5 SDK

In Tuesday, me Alex Abreu and David Barth had a meeting to discuss what needs to be done for the HTML5 SDK, then i started working on the implementation of the new header design, which will be done in steps.

Tabs PageStack

We still need to add more new APIs to the header, but this will involve updating autopilote tests to make sure everything works as expected.

I have also started working on updating some componenets like the Slider and Switch/Toggle while i was coming back home

Slider

We still have a lot things in the pipe(i18n, grid system, sheets), stay tuned!

It was a wonderful and very productif week, thanks to everyone and specially Michelle & Popey!
I hope we will be invited again next time.

Mark Shuttleworth: #8 – Ubuntu makes useful guarantees on every cloud

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2014-05-31 11:41

This is a series of posts on reasons to choose Ubuntu for your public or private cloud work & play.

When you see Ubuntu on a cloud it means that Canonical has a working relationship with that cloud vendor, and the Ubuntu images there come with a set of guarantees:

  1. Those images are up to date and secure.
  2. They have also been optimised on that cloud, both for performance and cost.
  3. The images provide a standard experience for app compatibility.

That turns out to be a lot of work for us to achieve, but it makes your life really easy.

Fresh, secure and tasty images

We update the cloud images across all clouds on a regular basis. Updating the image means that you have more of the latest updates pre-installed so launching a new machine is much faster – fewer updates to install on boot for a fully secured and patched machine.

  1. At least every two weeks, typically, if there are just a few small updates across the board to roll into the freshest image.
  2. Immediately if there is a significant security issue, so starting a fresh image guarantees you to have no known security gotchas.
  3. Sooner than usual if there are a lot of updates which would make launching and updating a machine slow.

Updates might include fixes to the kernel, or any of the packages we install by default in the “core” cloud images.

We also make sure that these updated images are used by default in any “quick launch” UI that the cloud provides, so you don’t have to go hunt for the right image identity. And there are automated tools that will tell you the ID for the current image of Ubuntu on your cloud of choice. So you can script “give me a fresh Ubuntu machine” for any cloud, trivially. It’s all very nice.

Optimised for your pocket and your workload

Every cloud behaves differently – both in terms of their architecture, and their economics. When we engage with the cloud operator we figure out how to ensure that Ubuntu is “optimal” on that cloud. Usually that means we figure out things like storage mechanisms (the classic example is S3 but we have to look at each cloud to see what they provide and how to take advantage of it) and ensure that data-heavy operations like system updates draw on those resources in the most cost-efficient manner. This way we try to ensure that using Ubuntu is a guarantee of the most cost-effective base OS experience on any given cloud.

In the case of more sophisticated clouds, we are digging in to kernel parameters and drivers to ensure that performance is first class. On Azure there is a LOT of deep engineering between Canonical and Microsoft to ensure that Ubuntu gets the best possible performance out of the Hyper-V substrate, and we are similarly engaged with other cloud operators and solution providers that use highly-specialised hypervisors, such as Joyent and VMware. Even the network can be tweaked for efficiency in a particular cloud environment once we know exactly how that cloud works under the covers. And we do that tweaking in the standard images so EVERYBODY benefits and you can take it for granted – if you’re using Ubuntu, it’s optimal.

The results of this work can be pretty astonishing. In the case of one cloud we reduced the Ubuntu startup time by 23x from what their team had done internally; not that they were ineffective, it’s just that we see things through the eyes of a large-scale cloud user and care about things that a single developer might not care about as much. When you’re doing something at scale, even small efficiencies add up to big numbers.

Standard, yummy

Before we had this program in place, every cloud vendor hacked their own Ubuntu images, and they were all slightly different in unpredictable ways. We all have our own favourite way of doing things, so if every cloud has a lead engineer who rigged the default Ubuntu the way they like it, end users have to figure out the differences the hard way, stubbing their toes on them. In some cases they had default user accounts with different behaviour, in others they had different default packages installed. EMACS, Vi, nginx, the usual tweaks. In a couple of cases there were problems with updates or security, and we realised that Ubuntu users would be much better off if we took responsibility for this and ensured that the name is an assurance of standard behaviour and quality across all clouds.

So now we have that, and if you see Ubuntu on a public cloud you can be sure it’s done to that standard, and we’re responsible. If it isn’t, please let us know and we’ll fix it for you.

That means that you can try out a new cloud really easily – your stuff should work exactly the same way with those images, and differences between the clouds will have been considered and abstracted in the base OS. We’ll have tweaked the network, kernel, storage, update mechanisms and a host of other details so that you don’t have to, we’ll have installed appropriate tools for that specific cloud, and we’ll have lined things up so that to the best of our ability none of those changes will break your apps, or updates. If you haven’t recently tried a new cloud, go ahead and kick the tires on the base Ubuntu images in two or three of them. They should all Just Work TM.

 

It’s frankly a lot of fun for us to work with the cloud operators – this is the frontline of large-scale systems engineering, and the guys driving architecture at public cloud providers are innovating like crazy but doing so in a highly competitive and operationally demanding environment. Our job in this case is to make sure that end-users don’t have to worry about how the base OS is tuned – it’s already tuned for them. We’re taking that to the next level in many cases by optimising workloads as well, in the form of Juju charms, so you can get whole clusters or scaled-out services that are tuned for each cloud as well. The goal is that you can create a cloud account and have complex scale-out infrastructure up and running in a few minutes. Devops, distilled.

Valorie Zimmerman: Exciting! Writing another KDE book: Frameworks in Randa

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2014-05-31 08:54

Returning to Randa is always tremendous, no matter what the work is. The house in Randa, Switzerland is so welcoming, so solid, yet modern and comfortable too.

KDE is in the building mode this year. If you think of the software like a house, Frameworks is the foundation and framing. Of course it isn't like a house, since the dwelling we are constructing is made from familiar materials, but remade in a interactive, modular fashion. I'd better stop with the house metaphor before I take it too far, because the rooms (applications) will be familiar, yet updated. And we can't call the Plasma Next "paint", yet the face KDE will be showing the world in our software will be familiar yet completely updated as well.

However, this year will see the foundation for KDE's newest surge ahead in software, from the foundation to the roof, to use the house metaphor one more time. I really cannot wait to get there and start work on our next book, the Framework Recipe book (working title). Of course, travel is expensive, and most of us will come from all over the world. So once again, we're raising funds for the Randa Meetings, which will be the largest so far. The e.V. is a major sponsor, but this is one big gathering. We need community support. Please give generously here:

www.kde.org/fundraisers/randameetings2014/index.php

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