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Rohan Garg: A shiny new release fresh out of the oven

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-04-17 18:09

The Kubuntu and KDE team has been hard at work for the last 6 months, which has culminated into a rocking Kubuntu 14.04 release which introduces a whole bunch of new features, the most important of which are :

  • A new semantic search framework for KDE SC 4.13, leading to faster email and file searches
  • Automatic error reporting in order to improve the quality of KDE and Kubuntu
  • A new driver manager to make it simpler to activate hardware that requires proprietary drivers
  • Notifications for when additional drivers or language packs can be installed to improve your Kubuntu experience
  • A new touchpad management app for laptops
  • Misc. bug fixes and features that can be found here

Kubuntu 14.04 is a LTS release, so while introducing new applications, we’ve also taken into account personal and business users who would want to run it for extended periods of time, which is why the Kubuntu team makes the following promise :

  • Kubuntu 14.04 will keep receiving security bug fixes when such fixes are available from KDE upstream for the next 5 years
  • New releases of the KDE SC will be backported to 14.04 and be available via Kubuntu PPA’s for the next 2 years
  • A long-term upgrade path to the next LTS release

Along with the above, the Ubuntu team also has plans to backport new Xorg and friends releases as well as new kernel releases as part of their LTS Enablement stack, making sure that your hardware performance keeps improving over the time of 5 years.

All of this makes Kubuntu the ideal distribution to use for enterprise rollouts, OEM’s and of course regular users who want a longer support cycle ( as opposed to the regular, 9 month, support cycle )

You can download your copy of Kubuntu 14.04 from here. We also have some Kubuntu swag that you can purchase over here!

Kubuntu: Kubuntu 14.04 LTS

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-04-17 18:00

Welcome to Kubuntu 14.04 LTS, a brand new Long Term Supported version with the latest KDE software to enjoy.

Long Term Support means bugfixes and security updates will be added for the next 5 years, so you can be safe to use it until 2019. New releases of important KDE Software will also be available from the Kubuntu Updates and Kubuntu Backports PPAs.

Edubuntu: Edubuntu 14.04 LTS Release Announcement

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-04-17 17:27

Welcome to Edubuntu 14.04 LTS!

The Edubuntu development team announces today the release of Edubuntu 14.04 LTS.

As the second Long Term Support release of the Edubuntu, this version will be supported for 5 years, until April 2019. The Edubuntu development team will also provide "point releases" in sync with Ubuntu to offer you new installation media containing all the latest bug fixes and hardware enablement stacks.

Please visit the download page for information on how to obtain it.

What's new ?

As usual, Edubuntu inherits most of the changes that occur in Ubuntu.
Additionally, this release brings you:

  • Epoptes 0.5.7, an update to the popular classroom management software suite.
  • New major version of LTSP (5.5.x), including numerous bugfixes, speed improvement, lowering bandwidth requirements and improving fat client support.

Edubuntu inherits new features from Ubuntu 14.04, please read the full release notes for a listing of the latest features and issues.

How do I get it ?

The DVD image (also usable as a USB image) is downloadable from our download page.

Installation instructions are available here.

If you already have an Ubuntu or Ubuntu based system installed, you can simply install any additional Edubuntu packages that you would like to use from the Software Center.

Users of Edubuntu 13.10 as well as fully up to date users from the 12.04 series can upgrade directly to 14.04.

Further Information

Community support is available via IRC, Forums and Mailing lists.
Please refer to for more information.

About Edubuntu

The Edubuntu project aims to maintain high quality educational and related packages in Ubuntu. Additionally, we also produce the Edubuntu DVD, which aims to be an easy to use Ubuntu system designed for home and classroom use.

For more information, see: About Edubuntu

Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S07E03 – The One with the Cake

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-04-17 17:12

Alan Pope, Mark Johnson, Tony Whitmore, and Laura Cowen are in Studio L for Season Seven, Episode Three of the Ubuntu Podcast!

 Download OGG  Download MP3 Play in Popup

In this week’s show:-

We’ll be back next week, when we’ll review the Ubuntu 14.04 release and go through your feedback.

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 our twitter feed
Find our Facebook Fan Page
Follow us on Google Plus

Charles Profitt: Replacing Ubuntu One

Planet Ubuntu - Thu, 2014-04-17 00:10

As many of you know Canonical has decided to discontinue the Ubuntu One files. In my testing I have not yet decided what service to replace Ubuntu One with, but I have currently migrated all my files to OneDrive from Microsoft by making use of Storage Made Easy. Storage Made Easy has clients for Windows, Linux, OS X and mobile clients, but you can migrate files between services using their web interface as well. With a free account you can add up to three providers. Due to bandwidth limits I doubt I will use the service as my replacement, but it did allow me to transfer the files to OneDrive as a temporary home while I figure out what I will use in the future.

In the process of migrating files to Microsoft’s service I noticed what I assume is an oversight by Canonical. The Ubuntu One site does not have any notification that it is shutting down. Below are some screen shots.

worse is I can still click on sign-up without being told the file services are being discontinued.

I sent an email to a Canonical employee and I hope this oversight will be correctly swiftly.

Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph: Finding a Tahr (or two!)

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-04-16 22:16

Tomorrow the next Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) release comes out, 14.04, development code name Trusty Tahr. In preparation, I was putting together some materials for our release event next week and found myself looking for the Tahr artwork when I remembered that it was included in the installer. So now I’ll share it with you as well!

If you go to this source page you will see a “download file” link which will allow you to download a .png of the tahr artwork.

I haven’t found an svg version of this logo, but I’ll be sure to update this post if I do.

Looking for something slightly different? The Xubuntu team also included a tahr in our installer, created by Simon Steinbeiß:

This png has transparency, which make it show grey on white, but you can flavor it with any color you wish!

You can grab it at this source page where you will see the “download file” link. I’ve also uploaded the svg: art_tahr.svg

Enjoy! And happy release everyone!

Ronnie Tucker: EXTRA! EXTRA! Read All About It!

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-04-16 21:13

Our glorious news reporters have begun posting news items directly to the site to keep you informed of all the latest Linux related news.

Clicking the NEWS link at the top of the site will show you the headlines, while looking to the right will show the five latest news posts.

Feel free to comment on the news stories as maybe the comments could expand the news section in the magazine.

Jorge Castro: Tomcat deployments are here for 12.04 and 14.04

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-04-16 13:23

We’ve been trying to get our Java developer story in order, as it’s one of the areas where users have been telling us they’d like to see made easier to manage. We brought Matthew Bruzek on board, who will be focusing on our Java framework stuff.

Here’s his first cut, and it’s a big one. We now finally have an all emcompassing Apache Tomcat Charm. This charm allows you to develop your app on top of it as a subordinate charm and be able to deploy it. As an example, let’s deploy OpenMRS.

juju deploy tomcat7 juju deploy openmrs juju deploy mysql juju add-relation openmrs mysql juju add-relation openmrs tomcat7 juju expose tomcat7

The magic happens when you relate openmrs to tomcat7, that installs OpenMRS in Tomcat, and then you’re good to go.

The charm contains a ton of options for you to check out, including deploying to Tomcat6 if that’s how you roll.

Those of you looking for “just shove my war file out there” can check out Robert Ayre’s j2ee-deployer charm. Here’s a blog post on how to use it.

That one is not in the charm store yet, but we’ll get to it!

Xubuntu: Xubuntu 14.04 released!

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:29

Xubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

The Xubuntu team is pleased to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 14.04. Xubuntu 14.04 is an LTS (Long-Term Support) release and will be supported for 3 years.

The final release images are available as Torrents and direct downloads at

As the main server will be very busy in the first days after the release, we recommend using the Torrents wherever possible.

For support with the release, navigate to Help & Support for a complete list of methods to get help.

Highlights, changes and known issues

The highlights of this release include:

  • Light Locker replaces xscreensaver for screen locking, a setting editing GUI is included
  • The panel layout is updated, and now uses Whiskermenu as the default menu
  • Mugshot is included to allow you to easily edit your personal preferences
  • MenuLibre for menu editing, with full Xfce support, replaces Alacarte
  • A community wallpapers package, which includes work from the five winners of the wallpaper contest
  • GTK Theme Config to customize your desktop theme colors
  • Updated artwork, including various enhancements to themes as well as a new default wallpaper

Some of the known issues include:

  • Xfce4 Power Manager does not restore screen power (1259339), see the release notes for details and workarounds
  • Window manager shortcut keys don’t work after reboot (1292290)
  • Sorting by date or name not working correctly in Ristretto (1270894)
  • Due to the switch from xscreensaver to light-locker, some users might have issues with timing of locking; removing xscreensaver from the system should fix these problems
  • IBus does not support certain keyboard layouts (1284635). Only affects upgrades with certain keyboard layouts. See release notes for a workaround.

To see the complete list of new features, improvements and known and fixed bugs, read the release notes.

Other efforts and thanks

As always, contributors to Xubuntu have worked on various projects not directly visible in the release. While any of these would be worth mentioning, the following are a few we felt may be of interest to the community:

  • QA efforts, including ISO and package testing as well as bug reporting and triaging
  • Marketing projects, including work on a flyer to promote Xubuntu for people still running Windows XP
  • Website updates, including a theme refresh

While many of the improvements in Xubuntu since the last LTS are, indeed, not directly visible. Some of the major improvements have been in design and theming, and as such we hope that you don’t see them – good design should be invisible.

Thanks to everybody contributing to Xubuntu! As always, new contributors are always welcome to join us. There are various different tasks to do, from testing daily ISOs and new package versions to writing and translating documentation to fixing bugs. To learn more about contributing, read the Get Involved section on the Xubuntu website.

Sean Davis: 14 Features of Xubuntu 14.04

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-04-16 01:27

Start up the hype machine!  We’re going to take a look at what’s coming in Xubuntu 14.04.

With only two days before final release, let’s take a look at what’s new in the next LTS release of Xubuntu.  Here’s 14 things that make the biggest splash this time around.

New Look
  1. Brand new theme for the LightDM GTK+ Greeter login/lock screen.

    LightDM GTK+ Greeter with the latest Greybird theme.

  2. A new “Suru”-styled default wallpaper.

    The new default wallpaper for Xubuntu 14.04 “Trusty Tahr”

  3. Six wallpapers were selected from a pool of community-submitted wallpapers and included.  See each of the winning submissions here.

    Balance – one of the community-submitted wallpapers.

  4. A new panel layout.  As featured below: [Whisker Menu] [Window Buttons] [Notification Area] [Indicator Plugin] [Clock]

    A new panel layout, whisker menu, and updated indicator stack.

  5. “Whisker Menu”, a modern menu applet, is included by default.
  6. The indicator stack has been updated.  Network, Power, and Sound are included and fully functional.
  7. The themes included come from the popular Shimmer Project and Numix Project.
Application Updates
  1. Xscreensaver has been removed in favor of Light Locker.  Light Locker uses LightDM to lock the screen, merging the functionality of the login screen and the lock screen.  Light Locker Settings is included to make configuration a simple task.

    A simple configuration utility to complement Light Locker.

  2. Mugshot, the simple user configuration utility, is now included by default.

    Mugshot with the latest Greybird theme.

  3. The Alacarte menu editor has been removed in favor of MenuLibre.

    MenuLibre with the latest Greybird theme.

  4. Parole Media Player’s plugins are once-again fully-functional.

    Parole’s plugins work again in Ubuntu 14.04

New Xfce Features
  1. The Xfce Display Settings now supports monitor hotplugging.

    The Xfce Display Settings can now automatically configure a newly connected display.

  2. The Xfce Compositor now supports zooming.  Just hold Alt and scroll the mousewheel up or down.
Keyboard Shortcuts
  1. Xubuntu 14.04 features more keyboard shortcuts and better compatibility with multimedia keyboards.
    • Web Browser: WWW or Home Page or Super+W
    • Mail Reader: Mail or Super+M
    • File Manager: My Computer or Super+F
    • Terminal: Super+T or Ctrl+Alt+T
    • Display Settings: Display or Super+P
    • gmusicbrowser: Music
    • Calculator: Calculator
    • Pidgin: Messenger
    • xkill: Ctrl+Alt+Escape

Seif Lotfy: Ich bin ein Xamarin(er) ♥

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-04-15 18:30

As of the beginning of the April I am a Xamarin (that is what Xamarin employees call themselves).

At Xummit I met the rest of the Xamarins and I had an incredible time there (dare I say magical ♥).
I met old friends like Rodrigo Moya, Jason Smith, David Siegel, Cody Russell, Neil Patel, Connor Curran, Gord Allot and others, but also made new friends:

  • Zack Gramana: The right amount of crazy and creative. He is helping me with my new pet project.
  • Seth Rosetter: SF chilled out hacker with an ear for techno and extreme positive attitude, a delight to hang out with.
  • Mike Krüger: One of the friendliest people I got to meet and know with exactly my kind of humour.
  • Victoria Grothey: Incredibly nice person with lots of energy and always smiling.
  • Marek Safar: The most passionate beer expert I know I guess. Also rumour has it that either I am stalking him or he is stalking me.
  • Václav Vančura: An awesome designer who motivated me to start drawing again. Thanks for that. And many many more.

One thing I believe in, is that interpersonal relationships between co-workers is a must for a community or a company to be productive and successful. Xamarin promoted (and still promotes) this positive habit, achieved it and even more. The upbeat attitude and enthusiasm at Xamarin is infectious. Combined with the diversity in culture as well as stuff/tasks to do brings the best out of Xamarins. I will not forget the bus ride to the venue. 8 people with 7 different nationalities, but all happy and psyched about what they are doing and what others are doing ♥.

Since I joined Xamarin I started doing more Mono in my free time too. Currently I am porting

Synapse to Mac (since I loved the interface and some of the functionalities I couldn’t find in Alfred and Quicksilver). Here is a small very early sneak peak :)

I am loving Xamarin and all its stands for and brings to the table.

P.S: Hylke Bons has a fan base here at Xamarin :)

Ubuntu Kernel Team: Kernel Team Meeting Minutes – April 15, 2014

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-04-15 17:14
Meeting Minutes

IRC Log of the meeting.

Meeting minutes.


20140415 Meeting Agenda

ARM Status

Nothing new to report this week

Release Metrics and Incoming Bugs

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

Milestone Targeted Work Items    apw    core-1311-kernel    4 work items          core-1311-cross-compilation    2 work items          core-1311-hwe-plans    1 work item       ogasawara    core-1403-hwe-stack-eol-notifications    2 work items       smb    servercloud-1311-openstack-virt    3 work items   

Status: Trusty Development Kernel

The 3.13.0-24.46 Ubuntu kernel in the Trusty archive is currently based on the v3.13.9 upstream stable kernel. The kernel is currently frozen
in preparation for our final 14.04 release this Thurs Apr 17. kernel.
We do not anticipate any uploads between now and Thurs. All patches
from here on out are subject to our Ubuntu SRU policy.
Important upcoming dates:
Thurs Apr 17 – Ubuntu 14.04 Final Release (~2 days away)

Status: CVE’s

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

Status: Stable, Security, and Bugfix Kernel Updates – Saucy/Raring/Quantal/Precise/Lucid

Status for the main kernels, until today (Mar. 25):

  • Lucid – Verification and Testing
  • Precise – Verification and Testing
  • Quantal – Verification and Testing
  • Saucy – Verification and Testing

    Current opened tracking bugs details:


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



    cycle: 30-Mar through 26-Apr
    28-Mar Last day for kernel commits for this cycle
    30-Mar – 05-Apr Kernel prep week.
    06-Apr – 12-Apr Bug verification & Regression testing.
    17-Apr 14.04 Released
    13-Apr – 26-Apr Regression testing & Release to -updates.

Vote on upload rights for kamal.

(ogasawara> <apw) "kamal has shown himself to have a keen eye for detail, and a
strong sense of when to ask for help. I have no hesitations in
accepting him into the team. +1"
^^ from apw

Application approved.

Open Discussion or Questions? Raise your hand to be recognized

No open discussion.

The Fridge: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 363

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-04-15 03:41

Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. This is issue #363 for the week April 7 – 13, 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 Krumbach Joseph
  • Paul White
  • Jose Antonio Rey
  • 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

Colin Watson: Porting GHC: A Tale of Two Architectures

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-04-15 01:45

We had some requests to get GHC (the Glasgow Haskell Compiler) up and running on two new Ubuntu architectures: arm64, added in 13.10, and ppc64el, added in 14.04. This has been something of a saga, and has involved rather more late-night hacking than is probably good for me.

Book the First: Recalled to a life of strange build systems

You might not know it from the sheer bulk of uploads I do sometimes, but I actually don't speak a word of Haskell and it's not very high up my list of things to learn. But I am a pretty experienced build engineer, and I enjoy porting things to new architectures: I'm firmly of the belief that breadth of architecture support is a good way to shake out certain categories of issues in code, that it's worth doing aggressively across an entire distribution, and that, even if you don't think you need something now, new requirements have a habit of coming along when you least expect them and you might as well be prepared in advance. Furthermore, it annoys me when we have excessive noise in our build failure and proposed-migration output and I often put bits and pieces of spare time into gardening miscellaneous problems there, and at one point there was a lot of Haskell stuff on the list and it got a bit annoying to have to keep sending patches rather than just fixing things myself, and ... well, I ended up as probably the only non-Haskell-programmer on the Debian Haskell team and found myself fixing problems there in my free time. Life is a bit weird sometimes.

Bootstrapping packages on a new architecture is a bit of a black art that only a fairly small number of relatively bitter and twisted people know very much about. Doing it in Ubuntu is specifically painful because we've always forbidden direct binary uploads: all binaries have to come from a build daemon. Compilers in particular often tend to be written in the language they compile, and it's not uncommon for them to build-depend on themselves: that is, you need a previous version of the compiler to build the compiler, stretching back to the dawn of time where somebody put things together with a big magnet or something. So how do you get started on a new architecture? Well, what we do in this case is we construct a binary somehow (usually involving cross-compilation) and insert it as a build-dependency for a proper build in Launchpad. The ability to do this is restricted to a small group of Canonical employees, partly because it's very easy to make mistakes and partly because things like the classic "Reflections on Trusting Trust" are in the backs of our minds somewhere. We have an iron rule for our own sanity that the injected build-dependencies must themselves have been built from the unmodified source package in Ubuntu, although there can be source modifications further back in the chain. Fortunately, we don't need to do this very often, but it does mean that as somebody who can do it I feel an obligation to try and unblock other people where I can.

As far as constructing those build-dependencies goes, sometimes we look for binaries built by other distributions (particularly Debian), and that's pretty straightforward. In this case, though, these two architectures are pretty new and the Debian ports are only just getting going, and as far as I can tell none of the other distributions with active arm64 or ppc64el ports (or trivial name variants) has got as far as porting GHC yet. Well, OK. This was somewhere around the Christmas holidays and I had some time. Muggins here cracks his knuckles and decides to have a go at bootstrapping it from scratch. It can't be that hard, right? Not to mention that it was a blocker for over 600 entries on that build failure list I mentioned, which is definitely enough to make me sit up and take notice; we'd even had the odd customer request for it.

Several attempts later and I was starting to doubt my sanity, not least for trying in the first place. We ship GHC 7.6, and upgrading to 7.8 is not a project I'd like to tackle until the much more experienced Haskell folks in Debian have switched to it in unstable. The porting documentation for 7.6 has bitrotted more or less beyond usability, and the corresponding documentation for 7.8 really isn't backportable to 7.6. I tried building 7.8 for ppc64el anyway, picking that on the basis that we had quicker hardware for it and didn't seem likely to be particularly more arduous than arm64 (ho ho), and I even got to the point of having a cross-built stage2 compiler (stage1, in the cross-building case, is a GHC binary that runs on your starting architecture and generates code for your target architecture) that I could copy over to a ppc64el box and try to use as the base for a fully-native build, but it segfaulted incomprehensibly just after spawning any child process. Compilers tend to do rather a lot, especially when they're built to use GCC to generate object code, so this was a pretty serious problem, and it resisted analysis. I poked at it for a while but didn't get anywhere, and I had other things to do so declared it a write-off and gave up.

Book the Second: The golden thread of progress

In March, another mailing list conversation prodded me into finding a blog entry by Karel Gardas on building GHC for arm64. This was enough to be worth another look, and indeed it turned out that (with some help from Karel in private mail) I was able to cross-build a compiler that actually worked and could be used to run a fully-native build that also worked. Of course this was 7.8, since as I mentioned cross-building 7.6 is unrealistically difficult unless you're considerably more of an expert on GHC's labyrinthine build system than I am. OK, no problem, right? Getting a GHC at all is the hard bit, and 7.8 must be at least as capable as 7.6, so it should be able to build 7.6 easily enough ...

Not so much. What I'd missed here was that compiler engineers generally only care very much about building the compiler with older versions of itself, and if the language in question has any kind of deprecation cycle then the compiler itself is likely to be behind on various things compared to more typical code since it has to be buildable with older versions. This means that the removal of some deprecated interfaces from 7.8 posed a problem, as did some changes in certain primops that had gained an associated compatibility layer in 7.8 but nobody had gone back to put the corresponding compatibility layer into 7.6. GHC supports running Haskell code through the C preprocessor, and there's a __GLASGOW_HASKELL__ definition with the compiler's version number, so this was just a slog tracking down changes in git and adding #ifdef-guarded code that coped with the newer compiler (remembering that stage1 will be built with 7.8 and stage2 with stage1, i.e. 7.6, from the same source tree). More inscrutably, GHC has its own packaging system called Cabal which is also used by the compiler build process to determine which subpackages to build and how to link them against each other, and some crucial subpackages weren't being built: it looked like it was stuck on picking versions from "stage0" (i.e. the initial compiler used as an input to the whole process) when it should have been building its own. Eventually I figured out that this was because GHC's use of its packaging system hadn't anticipated this case, and was selecting the higher version of the ghc package itself from stage0 rather than the version it was about to build for itself, and thus never actually tried to build most of the compiler. Editing ghc_stage1_DEPS in ghc/stage1/ after its initial generation sorted this out. One late night building round and round in circles for a while until I had something stable, and a Debian source upload to add basic support for the architecture name (and other changes which were a bit over the top in retrospect: I didn't need to touch the embedded copy of libffi, as we build with the system one), and I was able to feed this all into Launchpad and watch the builders munch away very satisfyingly at the Haskell library stack for a while.

This was all interesting, and finally all that work was actually paying off in terms of getting to watch a slew of several hundred build failures vanish from arm64 (the final count was something like 640, I think). The fly in the ointment was that ppc64el was still blocked, as the problem there wasn't building 7.6, it was getting a working 7.8. But now I really did have other much more urgent things to do, so I figured I just wouldn't get to this by release time and stuck it on the figurative shelf.

Book the Third: The track of a bug

Then, last Friday, I cleared out my urgent pile and thought I'd have another quick look. (I get a bit obsessive about things like this that smell of "interesting intellectual puzzle".) slyfox on the #ghc IRC channel gave me some general debugging advice and, particularly usefully, a reduced example program that I could use to debug just the process-spawning problem without having to wade through noise from running the rest of the compiler. I reproduced the same problem there, and then found that the program crashed earlier (in stg_ap_0_fast, part of the run-time system) if I compiled it with +RTS -Da -RTS. I nailed it down to a small enough region of assembly that I could see all of the assembly, the source code, and an intermediate representation or two from the compiler, and then started meditating on what makes ppc64el special.

You see, the vast majority of porting bugs come down to what I might call gross properties of the architecture. You have things like whether it's 32-bit or 64-bit, big-endian or little-endian, whether char is signed or unsigned, that sort of thing. There's a big table on the Debian wiki that handily summarises most of the important ones. Sometimes you have to deal with distribution-specific things like whether GL or GLES is used; often, especially for new variants of existing architectures, you have to cope with foolish configure scripts that think they can guess certain things from the architecture name and get it wrong (assuming that powerpc* means big-endian, for instance). We often have to update config.guess and config.sub, and on ppc64el we have the additional hassle of updating libtool macros too. But I've done a lot of this stuff and I'd accounted for everything I could think of. ppc64el is actually a lot like amd64 in terms of many of these porting-relevant properties, and not even that far off arm64 which I'd just successfully ported GHC to, so I couldn't be dealing with anything particularly obvious. There was some hand-written assembly which certainly could have been problematic, but I'd carefully checked that this wasn't being used by the "unregisterised" (no specialised machine dependencies, so relatively easy to port but not well-optimised) build I was using. A problem around spawning processes suggested a problem with SIGCHLD handling, but I ruled that out by slowing down the first child process that it spawned and using strace to confirm that SIGSEGV was the first signal received. What on earth was the problem?

From some painstaking gdb work, one thing I eventually noticed was that stg_ap_0_fast's local stack appeared to be being corrupted by a function call, specifically a call to the colourfully-named debugBelch. Now, when IBM's toolchain engineers were putting together ppc64el based on ppc64, they took the opportunity to fix a number of problems with their ABI: there's an OpenJDK bug with a handy list of references. One of the things I noticed there was that there were some stack allocation optimisations in the new ABI, which affected functions that don't call any vararg functions and don't call any functions that take enough parameters that some of them have to be passed on the stack rather than in registers. debugBelch takes varargs: hmm. Now, the calling code isn't quite in C as such, but in a related dialect called "Cmm", a variant of C-- (yes, minus), that GHC uses to help bridge the gap between the functional world and its code generation, and which is compiled down to C by GHC. When importing C functions into Cmm, GHC generates prototypes for them, but it doesn't do enough parsing to work out the true prototype; instead, they all just get something like extern StgFunPtr f(void);. In most architectures you can get away with this, because the arguments get passed in the usual calling convention anyway and it all works out, but on ppc64el this means that the caller doesn't generate enough stack space and then the callee tries to save its varargs onto the stack in an area that in fact belongs to the caller, and suddenly everything goes south. Things were starting to make sense.

Now, debugBelch is only used in optional debugging code; but runInteractiveProcess (the function associated with the initial round of failures) takes no fewer than twelve arguments, plenty to force some of them onto the stack. I poked around the GCC patch for this ABI change a bit and determined that it only optimised away the stack allocation if it had a full prototype for all the callees, so I guessed that changing those prototypes to extern StgFunPtr f(); might work: it's still technically wrong, not least because omitting the parameter list is an obsolescent feature in C11, but it's at least just omitting information about the parameter list rather than actively lying about it. I tweaked that and ran the cross-build from scratch again. Lo and behold, suddenly I had a working compiler, and I could go through the same build-7.6-using-7.8 procedure as with arm64, much more quickly this time now that I knew what I was doing. One upstream bug, one Debian upload, and several bootstrapping builds later, and GHC was up and running on another architecture in Launchpad. Success!


There's still more to do. I gather there may be a Google Summer of Code project in Linaro to write proper native code generation for GHC on arm64: this would make things a good deal faster, but also enable GHCi (the interpreter) and Template Haskell, and thus clear quite a few more build failures. Since there's already native code generation for ppc64 in GHC, getting it going for ppc64el would probably only be a couple of days' work at this point. But these are niceties by comparison, and I'm more than happy with what I got working for 14.04.

The upshot of all of this is that I may be the first non-Haskell-programmer to ever port GHC to two entirely new architectures. I'm not sure if I gain much from that personally aside from a lot of lost sleep and being considered extremely strange. It has, however, been by far the most challenging set of packages I've ported, and a fascinating trip through some odd corners of build systems and undefined behaviour that I don't normally need to touch.

Sean Davis: Parole Media Player 0.6.1 Released

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-04-15 01:05

In the last of my long-lost release announcements, we’ll review the changes in Parole Media Player 0.6.1.

What’s New?

This release builds on the changes from 0.5.90 and 0.5.91, please see their respective release announcements.

General Improvements

  • Added “Contents” menu item in the Help menu.  Goes to online documentation.
  • Removed redundant settings button from the playlist
  • Improved search in the playlist
  • Plugin API documentation updates

Bug Fixes

  • Properly use specified device, use correct URI (LP: #1098323)
  • Fixed crash for m3u files with all absolute paths

Additionally, Parole Media Player has been patched in Ubuntu 14.04 to properly load plugins again! (LP: #1286046, LP: #1168810, Xfce #9904)

Screenshots Getting Parole Media Player

Ubuntu 14.04 users will find the latest version of Parole in the repositories.

sudo apt-get install parole

For other distributions, the source files can be downloaded from Parole’s download page.

Nicholas Skaggs: Trusty Release Week: Get your test results in!

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-04-14 22:25
As promised, here is your reminder that we are indeed fast approaching the final image for trusty. It's release week, which means it's time to put your energy and focus into finding and getting the remaining bugs documented or fixed in time for the release.

We need you!
The images are a culmination of effort from everyone. I know many have already tested and installed trusty and reported any issues encountered. Thank you! If you haven't yet tested, we need to hear from you!

How to help
The final milestone and images are ready; click here to have a look.

Execute the testcases for ubuntu and your favorite flavor images. Install or upgrade your machine and keep on the lookout for any issues you might find, however small.

I need a guide!
Sound scary? It's simpler than you might think. Checkout the guide and other links at the top of the tracker for help.

I got stuck!
Help is a simple email away, or for real-time help try #ubuntu-quality on freenode. Here are all the ways of getting ahold of the quality team who would love to help you.

Plan to help test and verify the images for trusty and take part in making ubuntu! You'll join a community of people who do there best everyday to ensure ubuntu is an amazing experience. Here's saying thanks, from me and everyone else in the community for your efforts. Happy testing!

Jonathan Riddell: Calling all Testers

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-04-14 22:06
KDE Project:

Candidate images for Kubuntu 14.04LTS are up and need you to test them. Go to the ISO tracking site to download and mark your testing status. Check out the milestoned bugs for issues we are aware of and do report any we are not.

Sean Davis: Catfish 1.0.2 Released

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-04-14 21:29

I’m happy to announce that Catfish 1.0.2 has been released.  Find out what’s new in this release!

What’s New?

I thought the delay in previous release announcements was embarrassing… but there have been several stable releases since my last post (0.6.1).  I’ll try to keep this brief.

New Features

  • Switch to toggle standard and preview modes
  • Search filter for directories

General Improvements

  • Full Python3 support
  • Improved locale and encoding support
  • Updated to support the latest PyGObject APIs (minimum 3.6)
  • Introduced SudoDialog to handle user authentication (shared with Mugshot)
  • Code cleanup, removed unused template code, improved installer
  • Improved list logic with item selection
  • Interface refresh, mimicking common gnome applications
  • Improved handling of symbolic icons
  • Improved strings

Bug Fixes

Screenshots Getting Catfish Ubuntu Users

If you’re running Ubuntu 12.10 or 13.10, Catfish 1.0.2 is available from the Catfish Stable PPA.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:catfish-search/catfish-stable sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install catfish

If you’re running Ubuntu 14.04 or newer, Catfish 1.0.2 is available in the Ubuntu repositories.

sudo apt-get install catfish Everyone Else

If you’re running another Linux distribution, you can download the latest source package from the Catfish downloads page.

Costales: Interview: Migrating a school from Windows XP to Ubuntu 14.04

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-04-14 21:16

The end of support for Windows XP runs a real crossroad for hundreds of educational institutions and their computer systems. Ubuntu is the change that cutting edge education needs.

Fernando Lanero, for those who you don't know, is teacher and ICT manager of Agustinos School in León (Spain). A free software activist entangled in the migration of a school with 1200 students to the Ubuntu operating system.

Fernando & Costales
I'll talk to him in person so he can tell us firsthand how this interesting eXPerience is being, as many factors come into play.

Costales: Hi Fernando, How are you? Can you tell us how you started in the world of computers and when your awareness for free software and particularly Ubuntu was born?

Fernando: Hi! Good morning. Well, I started in the exciting world of computers with an 8086 computer that my parents bought me in 8th grade after passing all subjects. It was an Olivetti that had something like 16KB of RAM, a 20MB hard drive, green monochrome monitor and came with MS-DOS which after a month I inadvertently wiped away (del *.* in the root directory. You know). At that time I had friends with computers and then is when my interest popped, so imagine how many hours and hours I spent.
And in free software I started in 1997 or 1998. Those were years with a boom in Linux, with a lot of magazines including distributions in CD. I already had a Pentium 120Mhz. The installation experiences were a total disaster, I was still in high school, there was no Internet and all you could do was read and re-read the magazine and try to make some sense of it. Entering commands and although I came from MS- DOS, was a disaster. So at the end I could install some, but I can't tell which one. Probably Slackware or Fedora.
Then I left it and went to the dark side of Microsoft and its Windows 98. 10 years later, around 2007, I returned to Linux via Ubuntu, thanks to the good experiences commented by Ricardo Chao, teacher, schoolmate and close friend.

Costales: Have you already started the migration?

Fernando: Not yet, we are still waiting for the final version of Ubuntu 14.04. We are testing, starting with alpha versions and with betas now.

Costales: What operating system are you currently using and why you decided to change it?

Fernando: At school, all computers have Windows right now, 90% are Windows XP and the newest are Windows 7. With Windows 8 only the Director's, because it is the last one we bought. The reason for using this software is no other that it came preinstalled.

Costales: How many computers are we talking about and which are their characteristics?

Fernando: There are 2 computers, which are those of the Secretary, that are not being migrated for administrative reasons and the remaining 98 computers will be migrated. From my point of view, it is a very considerable amount of machines in an environment as the province of León, a small capital without major technology companies.

Costales: On which tasks are those computers used?

Fernando: They are used for teaching duties, for use by teachers in video projections, use of interactive whiteboards, technical drawing, etc.. And there are another 60 computers spread across the computing and languages classrooms.

Costales: Which programs do you use now with students? Do you have an idea of ​​the estimated cost for the school for using these programs?

Fernando: The flagship program is Microsoft Office, no doubt. And we have to renew licenses every year, as in a lease. The annual cost of renovation of the Office Suite is around 3,000 - 4,000 € for all computers.

Costales: Do you think that students can use these programs in their homes paying their licenses?

Fernando: That's the problem. That is the trap of proprietary software. In your classes you teach with the software you need for teaching. But what happens? If you teach students to work with a proprietary program, the kid is learning to use the program, what you're doing is creating a user of that program for that company (potential customer). The other natural part of the process is that you encourage to crack that program and therefore to bypass the law when it doesn't suit that person (potential offenders). There is no possible alternative to these two options with proprietary software.
You are forming a multinational company consumerist or a cracker, teaching students to break laws when they're not convenient. This is the greatest danger. People complain in Spain's society culture of cheating or stealing. And it is what is done in many schools, teach to cheat indirectly through proprietary software. If for example you are teaching Photoshop, the center has a purchased license, perfect. But will the student buy that program to do their homework? Impossible! And what happens then? Or you pass it under the counter or you encourage to download it from a page with a crack. You are already creating criminals, because you are inciting them to break the law.

Costales: Have you checked if there is free software that can replace the use of the proprietary software that you currently use?

Fernando: At 100%. With Photoshop or MS Office you switch to Gimp or LibreOffice without any problem. We have also begun to contact publishers. Now all textbooks come with support software for digital classrooms. This way you work with students in the classroom interactively, especially with idioms and history books, Pre-school education and Primary school. What happens? All of them have Windows software, but none for Linux. When speaking with them, I tell them that we are going to migrate to Linux and if their software doesn't work on Linux we need to change those textbooks with ones that makes it easier for us or simply that they have multiplatform software. Or they get the ball rolling to run on Linux or we will seek alternatives.

In class
Costales: Have you detected any other problem with using Windows XP other than the cost of licenses?

Fernando: Yes, the biggest problem for migration is the Junta de Castilla y León Administration. What happens? The Junta signed in 2011 an agreement with Microsoft to use its software for 5 years (obviously without any tendering process). It appeared on news media, the director of Microsoft Iberia came, there was a meeting with Bill Gates...
The problem of the agreement is that all web applications that are developed must run Microsoft software and are accessible only with Internet Explorer. Which is a huge problem; it is our biggest problem and the reason why the 2 Secretary computers are not being migrated, it is the only way to communicate with the Junta: through Internet Explorer which obviously only works on Windows systems.

Costales: When you thought about the migration cause of Windows XP obsolescence, I guess you considered the option of switching to the Windows 8 operating system. Did you have any kind of pressure from the school or the Junta for, among all the possible options, you to opt for Windows 8? Could Windows 7 work too?

Fernando: The migration process was brought up after the publication in the news that Windows XP was obsolete and would receive no more updates from Microsoft. At school the highest security problem resides in the malware that is spread through removable storage devices, because people basically works with USB sticks for the transmission of documents, being an authentic greenhouse for viruses. A few years ago we had a serious problem with malware that was transmitted between USB drives and sneaked though the antivirus program in our school; it was crazy until completely eradicated.
I had no pressure, I had a lot of freedom and when the management asked me what to do with the problem we had, I told them that we could not stay on with XP. My first choice was to switch to Windows 7 which works well, I got the nod and we requested a quote. The surprise was that Windows 7 is now discontinued and Microsoft no longer provides software licenses...

Costales: Can't you buy Windows 7 anymore?

Fernando: You can't buy it, Windows 7 is no longer sold. And obviously you can't install it pirate for all what I explained above, in addition to the legal issues.
Then we asked a dealer for a budget for changing to Windows 8, which was a completely rip-off: Around 12,000 € to change all licenses, which represents half of the school budget for the entire course. That is unaffordable for a school. And that price is once applied the 50% discount for education.
Neither the mosaics interface Windows 8 Metro has is appropriate for a teaching environment. An interface with which when you are working you can see the weather in León, the horoscope and latest news. That makes no sense in a classroom. I saw Windows 8 completely useless for education. It doesn't seem useful.
On top, computers don't have the ability to seamlessly run that version, and adding a hardware upgrade, which is required to successfully migrate to new versions of Windows 8, budget could quietly raise to 25,000 €. The school was willing to pay if there were no choice (we were at a dead end) and that was when I proposed switching to free software.

Costales: How much does a single license of Windows 8 costs for a school? Is there a discount?

Fernando: 120 € with 50% discount for education. Unbelievable.

Costales: Many administrations in Spain support and promote free software, do you know the position of the Junta de Castilla y León about it?

Fernando: The Junta supports free software at a rate of 0%. They don't want to know anything about this topic. We are David against two Goliath: the Junta de Castilla y León and Microsoft.

Costales: What other alternatives did you consider for the migration?

Fernando: Taken in care the hardware, I also considered Xubuntu and Lubuntu. When Canonical published the first alpha of Ubuntu 14.04, I tried it on the oldest computer (CPU Core 2 Duo with 2GB RAM) and Unity was completely fluid and so, I chose to install Ubuntu 14.04 on the rest, when it's released.

Costales: What is the biggest advantage of using Ubuntu at school? Why Ubuntu and not other distros?

Fernando: The biggest advantage is that the entire school community associate free software to Ubuntu, all of them know and have heard of Ubuntu at some point in the latest years.
Another great advantage is the drivers support that Ubuntu provides. I have tried many distributions and no one gives such a broad support. In a hundred computers with different hardware you can't have troubles if the graphics card doesn't work, the audio, the network connection... We need a distribution that works 100 % from scratch in all computers.

Fernando Lanero Barbero
Costales: Any particular problem for choosing Ubuntu?

Fernando: Yes, people. People are reluctant to switch to Linux. They are reluctant to any kind of change. "And how will this affect me?". I reply that it won't disrupt them, they will do all their tasks exactly the same way and even more efficiently. The office suite LibreOffice can give some problems because everyone works with Microsoft Office documents and when importing, the latest versions misplace things and that drives them crazy. But I don't worry too much, we have a good support in school!

Costales: What will be the economic cost to migrate to Ubuntu? Have you thought about paying for the official support from Canonical? Why?

Fernando: For now we won't pay the official support, although it may be a good option. The real cost is 0 €, as we are installing it ourselves.

Costales: 100 Computers is a lot of equipment. Will they all have the same configuration? How will you do it?

Fernando: We will make a custom ISO for all the school unifying certain things. Those who are on the same network will be installed by LAN, and for the rest we'll have to do it one by one.

Costales: How long will the migration take?

Fernando: Approximately 2 months.

Costales: Do you have problems with the interactive whiteboards drivers?

Fernando: Yes, we have problems, but Hitachi gives us the source code and it's much simpler. There is a group from another school in Barcelona with Francisco Javier Teruelo leading that is helping a lot with this issue, and the final idea is creating an installation package to automate everything.

Costales: In addition to saving money, what will teachers, students and parents gain with Ubuntu? Is there any advantage over the use of Windows 8?

Fernando: They will get 100 % peace of mind, especially for removing all malware, that at school becomes a paranoia. The typical conversation in the school is:
  • All computers are full of viruses.
  • No sorry, your computer at home, how long haven't you updated the antivirus?
  • I dont know. When I bought the computer the antivirus came with it and I never touched it again.
  • And how old is it?
  • Six years.
  • Okay, so where viruses are coming to school is from your computer. 
 At school we have the antivirus fully updated and even so, we had the problem that I told you with USB infection.
More benefits? Network speed. After the recent migration to fiber optic and with Gigabit network configuration all will be much faster with Linux. Because I honestly don't know what Windows does, but turns any network 10% or 15% slower compared to a Linux network. Or maybe it is the NSA spying on us.

Costales: You were saying, teachers were a little reluctant to change, but what about students?

Fernando: It is getting students attention. Kids are naturally curious. Among them there is a very pro-Linux culture. Throughout these years I have managed to create the idea that Linux is cool, that it's used by people who are really interested in learning and who know the real functioning of things and that really attracts their attention. They are not at all reluctant to change. They seek novelty and change.

Costales: It appears that citizens' initiative takes light years to the Administration, especially reading news that the Administration will migrate to Windows 8 without tender. What would you say to those who say that a migration to Ubuntu is complicated, just as expensive as Windows, unfeasible or other tales?

Fernando: Tales, you said it. The exact phrase is "Tales told by the propaganda of the multinational companies". Those circumstances you just commented on is what Microsoft sells, who has made an amazing subliminal advertising to make you see that what is good is Windows. Windows gave me thousands of troubles for years in school computers for their lack of support for older ATI cards. With Linux you have much more compatibility with older hardware. Everything is much easier.
Regarding cost, we know well. We have passed from 12,000 € to 0 €. It's true that we are here to migrate it and if we weren't you would have to hire a company to install it, but they won't charge anywhere near 12,000 € for installing it.

Costales: If you had to hire a company, local employment would also be promoted.

Fernando: Sure. Much better. You'd have people around you working and not collecting benefits cause of lack of jobs.

Costales: Did this end of support helped to consider which technologies to acquire in the future in order to be more open and less dependent on a particular company?

Fernando: Sure. All this has led to think of other alternative technologies. An article in the Diario de León on this migration has drawn much attention in our environment. It allows to see that there are other alternatives. Much superior and with an open philosophy of sharing among equals. Linux has begun to be tied to advance, avant-garde... cause of the work of the entire community. Android has also done much good for Linux. Although not a 100 % free alternative, people is already hearing about Linux. Their phone works very well and that's good!

Costales: When I was young there was luckily a computer per home. I had a passion for movies like WarGames, Internet didn't exist and I would fervently read the few magazines relating how real hackers bypassed mainframes time limitation to program at universities...
Now we have a couple of computers per person, a lot of documentation, easier access to technology... the real digital natives are current students... Do they have the same interest in computers as we had formerly? Do you create them passion for Ubuntu? Do they use it at home?

Fernando: Yes, it is true that now a much larger volume of people use computers and is much more accessible, but the level of use is more superficial. When we were young we would reach much deeper inside, I remember that I had a 300 pages manual for MS-DOS commands and I studied it because I loved that. That is now unimaginable. Most guys are mostly devoted to social networks, it is not the interest in computer science itself we had. It is interest focused on applications. With the 8086 computer it's true that I played Monkey Island, but if you had a problem with the sound you had to find out how to solve it. Now, if something doesn't work for them, they change.

Costales: Let's say that the ones that were before, it was because they wanted, and now they are for obligation...

Fernando: Now it is cause they have it and as they have it, they use it. The "pioneers" essence we lived is lost someway.

Costales: Although I checked in situ with Linux & Tapas León that many of your students came and they have a passion for free software...

Fernando: Yes, it is true that I tried to show them as well to others, the benefits of using open systems. To view that the path is to share with others, to help each other. The Ubuntu spirit whitin an educational system is fundamental. At the end of the course, around 10 students install it on their own always; as long as i know.

Costales: Thank you Fernando for sharing this experience with us and best luck with migration.

This translation from the Spanish is available thanks to the effort of Fernando Gutiérrez Prado.
Interview under Creative Commons CC BY-SA license.

Sean Davis: Mugshot 0.2.3 Released

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-04-14 20:59

Mugshot 0.2.3 has been released.  This release improves the stability and usability of the previously introduced features.  Find out more after the break.

What’s New?

Keeping in line with the previous release announcements, the following is a summary of the latest changes.


  • Mugshot is now a Python3-only application
  • Online documentation is now used instead of yelp
  • GLib is now used to get environment and user settings
  • Populate the Initials field based on first/last name fields
  • Hide “Remove” when there is no profile image set
  • SudoDialog (from Catfish) is now used for authentication
  • Disable first and last name editing without sudo rights (chfn limitation)
  • Stop processing updates if password is incorrectly entered
  • Temporary files are now cleared on exit
  • Package is now 100% PEP8-compliant
  • Packaging has been simplified


  • Sync AccountsService user image and ~/.face file
  • Scale images on save to accomodate AccountsService max size

Bug Fixes

  • Add option to remove current profile picture (LP: #1286897)
  • Add AccountsService support to set profile picture (LP: #1273896)
  • mugshot fails at attempt to change avatar (LP: #1284720)
  • Fix crash with IndexError in init_user_details (LP: #1287368)
  • mugshot is unable to store profile picture (LP: #1298665)
  • Fixed typo that incorrectly hid the manual photo browser instead of stock
  • Fixed crash when saving user details with a non-English locale
Screenshots Getting Mugshot Ubuntu Users

If you’re running Ubuntu 13.10, Mugshot is available from the Mugshot Stable PPA.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mugshot-dev/stable sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install mugshot

If you’re running Ubuntu 14.04 or newer, Mugshot is available in the Ubuntu repositories.

sudo apt-get install mugshot Everyone Else

If you’re running another Linux distribution, you can download the latest source package from the Mugshot downloads page.


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