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Joel Leclerc: How to use WoW64 WINE under Ubuntu and Arch Linux

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-01-08 20:59

No, it isn’t World of Warcraft 64 (it’s only at version 5 at the time of writing). WoW64 allows you to run 32- and 64-bit applications on a 64-bit WINE prefix (well, not exactly, WoW64 is for windows, and WINE adopted it). While it may not be as fun as World of Warcraft 64 would be, it’s definitely much more useful (and heck, it might even help you run it, so don’t get all disappointed! XD).

Alright, so joking aside, you’ll, of course, need a 64-bit OS to run it (if you have a 32-bit OS on a 64-bit processor, it won’t work). So, first of all, run this in a terminal:

wine wmic os get osarchitecture

If you see “64-bit” (which is what will happen if you use Arch Linux… if you installed the “wine” package), then you can skip this tutorial! If not, then if you have ubuntu, run this in a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install wine1.7

If WINE has been updated (say to version 1.8 or 1.9 or something… you can check this at … look at “Latest Releases” “Development” … at the time of writing, it’s 1.7.10), install wine1.8 or 1.9 or whatever the new version is, instead of wine1.7.

Once that’s done, you will need to create a new WINE prefix. To do this, simply run this in a terminal:

WINEPREFIX=new/wine/prefix/path winecfg

For example, if I wanted to have my 64-bit WINE prefix at ~/.wine-64 (~ is the home directory), I would run this:

WINEPREFIX=~/.wine-64 winecfg

You have to realize that every time you want to run something using that WINE prefix, you’ll always need to prefix the command with WINEPREFIX=~/.wine-64 (or wherever you put your WINE prefix). For that reason, I simply renamed my old 32-bit prefix to ~/.wine-old, then created my new 64-bit one at ~/.wine (which is the default path for the prefix). That way, I don’t have to prefix each command with that (unless I want to access my old 32-bit one).

Joel Leclerc: Creating an Orchestral track under Ubuntu REDUX – Part 1: Choosing a DAW

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-01-08 18:38

So, I originally thought this series was useless, and, well, since I didn’t cover some of the more important sections, it pretty much was =P

But one person asked me to finish it, which was the first time I saw that it was useful, to at least someone, so I decided maybe it’d be a better idea if I make a redux of it, because the first one had many issues (and I’ve learned a lot since then).

One of the issues was that it took LMMS as the base DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), which, as I have learned since, is definitely not the best DAW for orchestral music production (IMHO). Since I have tried a couple of DAWs, I’ll share my thoughts on each one =) Next part will focus on setting them up.

  • LMMS:
    • Pros:
      • It’s somewhat easy to install (you might need to compile it though)
      • Linux-native
      • Very intuitive at first, and good for beginners
    • Cons:
      • Very buggy (minor bugs, but still annoying)
      • I personally hate the automation
      • Multiple MIDI inputs for a VSTi is very hard (I haven’t managed to ever make it work)
      • VSTi’s take a loooong time to load (though this is most likely an issue with having a linux-native DAW using windows VSTi’s)… especially Kontakt, which is probably the most important VSTi you’ll need for orchestral music production
    • Conclusion: Good for beginners, not good for orchestral music production
  • QTractor:
    • Pros:
      • Simple
      • Minimalistic
      • Logical
      • Intuitive
      • Consistent
      • Fast (the program is fast)
    • Cons:
      • More work to install and setup than LMMS (especially with setting up windows VST support)
      • Buggy
      • Crashes a lot
      • Piano Roll is pretty bad (IMO)
      • Not as pretty as most others (though, tbh, that isn’t too important XD)
      • Though the workflow is very consistent and intuitive, the word “fast” would definitely not be the best to describe it
      • I have never been able to successfully load a windows VST on it yet (when I was actually able to _find_ the VST, it crashed while loading it)
    • Conclusion: I like this one a lot, but its cons make it only really useful at a conceptual stage (IMHO, at least)
  • I will skip a lot of other Linux-native DAWs, because I haven’t had enough time with them to give a somewhat decent Pro/Con list to. However, I find that OpenOctaveMidi – though it never worked for me – seems to be (from the features list) the most promising linux DAW so far (sadly, it hasn’t been updated in 2 years).
    • Pros:
      • Free (kinda … the trial never really ends)
      • Well maintained (updates pretty much every week or 2)
      • Works almost flawlessly under linux
      • Very customizable
      • Piano roll has a _really_ useful time-stretching feature (when multiple notes are selected, CTRL+Drag on the edge of any of the selected notes, and it will time stretch it)…. something I really miss with other DAWs
    • Cons:
      • It isn’t actually free… but you can keep on using it as long as you like for free (the trial isn’t enforced)
      • (I’ll have to update this later… I know I’m missing a few, but I haven’t used it for so long that I forget >.<)
      • It might have frozen a lot, that may be why I don’t use it anymore (as I said, I forget)
    • Conclusion: It’s great, but I forget what I didn’t like about it…  TODO: FIX THIS!!
  • Ableton Live:
    • Pros:
      • As its name suggests (“Live”, not “Ableton” =P), it’s great for live performances, due to its really neat session view (basically, you can put a lot of 1 bar patterns in it, then play them at different times)
      • Its macro feature is _really_ useful, as it basically (AFAICS, I’ve never used it, but I’ve seen people use it) an automation that automates multiple other automations. Though its use in orchestral music is not that prominent, it’s very useful in electronic music (and since my style usually has a mix of both electronic and orchestral, I would use this a lot, if I still used Live).
      • Automations are really well made
      • CTRL+Drag. Seriously, it’s probably one of my favourite features from it… so simple, but so powerful (while dragging moves a clip or note, CTRL+Drag will duplicate it and move the duplicate… very useful!!)
      • Close integration with Max, a tool that kind of lets you create your own synths or effects
    • Cons:
      • Midi CC automations are terrible, and sometimes don’t even work! This is the main reason why I don’t use it, as in orchestral music, Midi CC automations are pretty much one of the most important things you’ll use.
      • The display is very buggy under linux
      • The Midi editor needs work (it’s workflow is rather slow)
      • It doesn’t bridge VSTs. So if you’re using the 64-bit version, you can’t use 32-bit VSTs.
      • It crashes a lot
    • Conclusion: Though it’s really great for electronic music, it’s not so great for orchestral music
  • Studio One:
    • Pros:
      • Best DAW for Midi CC automation that I’ve used so far (it works both on clips, and on the timeline!)
      • Automation is pretty good (you can create square, triangle, and sine waves really easy on it)
      • Very intuitive (I picked it up really quickly, compared to nearly all other DAWs I’ve used so far)
      • Its plugin browser is also really neat (you can organize it by vendor, category, folder, or just flat)… best one I’ve seen so far
      • Close integration with Melodyne, an apparently really cool audio editor (I still haven’t figured it out though XD)
    • Cons:
      • The display is very buggy under linux (sometimes the timeline time vertical bar indicator [for lack of a better word] doesn’t even show! Also, the rectangle selection doesn’t show either)
      • It’s buggy all-around (I don’t think this is linux-related)
    • Conclusion: Best DAW I’ve used so far for orchestral music production, but it’s very buggy!

I would have included the setup part in this one, but I realized that it would have probably taken 2 more articles (plus this one), so I decided to just give a quicker article at first, to kick off the new tutorial “series” =)

Oh, and, if I may add… I’m working on my own DAW right now, which is fully modular, so if there is something that isn’t quite right, then it’s easy to change it =) It’s kind of a precursor to SythOS (same concept…. 3D virtual environment, network-enabled, fully modular, timelines, timeline branches, etc…), but it’s much simpler (since it’s only an audio workstation). I’m planning on releasing it sometime by the end of this year =)

Barneedhar: Ask Ubuntu – In the year 2013

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-01-08 17:20

Before I get anywhere, let me convey my thanks to slhck for his help with the data visualization and his awesome R skills.

Having got that out of the way, let’s look at some stats involving Ask Ubuntu in the year 2013. There is no real purpose in this exercise other than whetting my appetite for numbers.

Let’s start with the big picture. At this point, I should state the data points are not cumulative and represent the state of the site during that period of time.

The total number of questions asked has almost tripled since 2011. Number of questions not being deleted has quite a linear growth as well. Remember, “questions” are deleted on Ask Ubuntu for a variety of reasons, including spam, offensive content and rants among others.

The percentage of questions closed to total questions asked has decreased over the years but the questions closed as duplicates has increased.

Breaking 2013 into months, we can see there are two peaks around 13.04 (2013-05) and 13.10 (2013-10) releases.

And what about the answers?

There is a steep increase in the absolute numbers of questions with zero answers. Questions with accepted answers has taken a hit and so does questions with multiple answers.

In the various months of 2013, yeah.. we have work to do on that. Yet to fully recover from 13.10 release.

How goes voting?

One of the selling points of Ask Ubuntu (being a part of Stack Exchange network of sites) is that it is community regulated (via votes among other means). 2013, however, is not a year of voting on Ask Ubuntu.

Despite having more questions asked compared to 2012, the number of questions with at least a positive score has decreased. Questions with 3 or more votes have decreased sharply as well.

Questions with no positive score have skyrocketed. Guess it’s time to pull our socks and vote more. Want to help?

The monthly breakdown of 2013 seems to suggest a general decrease in votes as well.

Questions and traffic

For a site that is currently getting about 260k views per day, the following might be surprising.

50% of the questions asked in 2013 don’t have more than a 100 views, which is not particularly appeasing. It seems not a lot of questions are getting enough eye balls and are adding to the growing tally of tumbleweeds on the site.

Making the truth more obvious since the 90s.

Scores, views and answers combined

More page views clearly increase the possibility of a question getting either a vote or (hopefully) an answer.

The last couple months of 2013 have a higher number of lowly viewed questions. Guess they need a little time to garner more views.

If any data wiz out there wants to play with the data, here’s the spreadsheet. And that would be all from the numbers department this year.

Victor Tuson Palau: [Ubuntu Touch] Logviewer

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-01-08 15:55

I have been recently doing some android development for Techfunder, one thing that I have found really useful when testing my app is using CatLog. CatLog allows you to check the app and system logs on the go. This is extremely useful when you have a crash while you are not close to your laptop.

This motivated me to look into writing a similar app for Ubuntu Touch. So here it is: LogViewer!

This app, like CatLog, is for developers and requires unconstrained running. You will need to install it manually:

  • Download click package from launchpad
  • transfer to your device and install:
  1. adb push /home/phablet/
  2. adb shell

  3. su phablet
  4. cd ~
  5. pkcon -p install-local

When you launch the app, you will get a list of .log files in /home/phablet/.cache/upstart/ , if you click on an specific log, it will be displayed in a similar manner to tail -f. You can pause the autoreading, clear the screen and copy to clipboard parts of the logs from the bottom menu.

You can also access other files, change font size of the logs and the size of the text buffered from the settings page.

You can see the code and contribute in launchpad:

Valorie Zimmerman: Does your volume keep resetting to zero?

Planet Ubuntu - Wed, 2014-01-08 09:35
I see this question occasionally in #kde, #kubuntu, and #amarok. Tonight I saw the first answer that seems to shed light on it.

Cousin_luigi said in #kde tonight: "I expect the volume to be at the same level I left it." Which is perfectly reasonable! And yet, we often find something else. Axtroz had the answer:
Cousin_luigi, because some systems run "alsactl restore" on startup which restores the volume state saved with "alsactl store" and that tunes the volume for a particular soundcard. Since Pulseaudio and Alsa are working together via plugins, pulse follows. Check your init scripts, or raise the volume to an apropriate level and run alsactl store as root.
I don't have this problem, so I didn't test the solution. However, here it is as a public service. Thanks to Cousin_luigi for asking, and Axtroz for answering.

Tony Whitmore: A message for fans of Sherlock (spoilers!)

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-01-07 20:36

For fans of Sherlock, I’d just like to make it clear that although I am a wedding photographer, I’m not a psycho murderer dude. And I almost never use flash during the daytime. I just do stuff like this…

These photos are from Stuart and Zoe’s fantastic wedding in Greece last autumn. I will be writing more about it soon!

Pin It

Ubuntu Kernel Team: Kernel Team Meeting Minutes – January 07, 2014

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-01-07 17:14
Meeting Minutes

IRC Log of the meeting.

Meeting minutes.


20140107 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    5 work items          core-1311-cross-compilation    2 work items          core-1311-hwe-plans    1 work item       bjf    core-1311-dmraid2mdadm    1 work item       cking    core-1311-kernel    1 work item       ogasawara    core-1311-kernel    4 work items          client-1311-xorg-general    1 work item       sforshee    servercloud-1311-cloud-images    1 work item       smb    core-1311-dmraid2mdadm    1 work item          servercloud-1311-openstack-virt    6 work items       rtg    core-1311-kernel    1 work item   

Status: Trusty Development Kernel

We’ve finished cleaning up some DKMS packages for Trusty and are
preparing for our first v3.13 based kernel upload to the archive.
This is specifically based on the latest v3.13-rc7 upstream kernel.
I would also like to remind everyone that the 12.04.4 point release is
now taking place on Thurs Feb 6. The kernel is currently frozen for
12.04.4 and we do not anticipate any respins at this time.
Important upcoming dates:
Thurs Jan 23 – Alpha 2 (~2 weeks away)
Thurs Feb 6 – 12.04.4 Final Release (~4 weeks 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

Nothing new to report this week.

Open Discussion or Questions? Raise your hand to be recognized

No open discussions.

Nigel Babu: Quick Tip: Ansible Debugging

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-01-07 16:15

Today I learned something about Ansible debugging from benno on #ansible. Occasionally, commands can get stuck, especially if it’s waiting for input. You can’t fix this until you recognize what’s going on and see the prompt. In other words, you want to see the stdout and stderr on the target machine. Here’s what you do:

  • Run ansible with -vvv.
  • Login to the remote host where the command is being executed.
  • Find the ansible process executing the command and kill them.
  • The stdout and stderr should be printed to the console where ansible was running.

Jonathan Riddell: Frameworks 5 Tech Preview is here!

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-01-07 13:22
KDE Project:

Frameworks 5 Tech Preview has arrived.

KDE Frameworks it a port of kdelibs to Qt 5 and turned into modules so you can install only the bits you need. People are often reluctant to add kdelibs to their applications because it brings in too many dependencies. With KDE Frameworks it has been modularised so much is simply extra Qt libraries. This will bring KDE software to a much wider audience. Many parts of kdelibs have just been moved into Qt itself thanks to the open qt-project.

Binary packages are available in Kubuntu as part of Neon 5 and I'm starting to package them in our experimental PPA.

Sebastian Heinlein: mutt-eds-query

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-01-07 05:21
There is a nice tool which allows you to autocomplete email addresses in mutt by making use of the contacts stored in the evolution data server of the GNOME desktop. The small helper programme was originally written by Sertac Yildiz and was updated recently to the latest EDS API by Paul W. Frields. Since I use several address books I made some enhancements to the programme:
  • Query all address books which are marked for autocompletion
  • Support multiple search terms
  • Command line options to ignore the auto completion setting and to include contact notes in the query results
But I dropped compatibility with EDS < 3.6. You can find the source code at Gitorious: git:// The corresponding muttrc configuration would be: set query_command="$HOME/bin/mutt-eds-query '%s'"

The Fridge: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 349

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-01-07 03:37

Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. This is issue #349 for the weeks December 23, 2013 – January 5, 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
  • Emily Gonyer
  • Jim Connett
  • 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

Jonathan Riddell: FOSDEM 2014

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-01-07 01:35
KDE Project:

I'm going to FOSDEM for 2014, are you? FOSDEM is a massive free software meeting with more projects than you knew existed. We need help on the KDE stall. We also need visitors in the devroom. Finally we need KDE people to come and eat pizza on Saturday evening. Add yourself to the wiki page if you want to help KDE at FOSDEM.

Jono Bacon: Ubuntu Loco Team App Dev Schools – Volunteers Needed!

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-01-06 22:37

2014 is going to be a great year for Ubuntu App Developers. We laid down some fantastic foundations in 2013, but this year we want to extend and grow our community in multiple directions…building a solid, empowered on-ramp for creating awesome apps for Ubuntu.

…but we can’t do this alone, we need your help!

One effort here is to work with our fantastic LoCo Team Community to run a series of Ubuntu App Developer schools across the world. We have one of the greatest advocacy communities anywhere, so this seems like a perfect match.

Fortunately, David Planella has already created some awesome slides and a good tutorial that these schools can work from (he did this for a previous event), and we are here to help provide help and guidance about how to run an event.

As such, we are looking for volunteers to run a local Ubuntu App Dev school in your area. Doing this is as simple as:

  • Find a place to run an event and pick a date when to run it.
  • Find some other folks in your LoCo who would be interested in helping.
  • Get the material and tune it for your event if needed.
  • Promote the event locally and encourage people to join.
  • Practice the material a few times before the big day, then show up, run the class and have fun.
  • Take lots of pictures!

The last step is really important as we would like to create a montage of the events.

So, if you are interested in participating, send me an email to and mention which LoCo team you are part of and where you would run the event, and lets make the magic happen!

Raphaël Hertzog: My Free Software Activities in December 2013

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-01-06 21:48

This is my monthly summary of my free software related activities. If you’re among the people who made a donation to support my work (147.56 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.

The Debian Administrator’s Handbook

I spent a good chunk of December on the book. First finalizing the English version and getting it out (BTW, just for the launch, there’s a 10% discount on the paperback that lasts only until January 9th!). Then working on updating the French translation. Eyrolles will publish a new edition of the French book based on this translation. Expect some further news about this during January!

Debian France

I contributed to many discussions within Debian France.

Starting with a complaint that most events are organized in Paris, I proposed to map the location of Debian France members. We added new fields in the membership management page so that members can add their GPS coordinates and Frédéric Decou made some experiments with Openstreetmap. Someone else (Kiriarat) volunteered to write the required glue code. A manual map is currently maintained on the website.

In the discussions about the setup of the Debian France shop, I suggested to update our logo with a nicer looking one. We got a few suggestions and after further discussions with Alexandre Delanoë and Sylvestre Ledru, we organized a small contest to entice designers to submit a logo proposal to us (the winner earns a set of Debian goodies). We got 46 proposals (see my favorite on the right)! The board is currently pre-selecting the logos and setting up the final vote for our members. The winner shall be announced at the end of the upcoming mini-debconf in Paris.

I also continued the work to finalize new bylaws and new internal rules. They shall be adopted during the next general assembly which will happen during the mini-debconf.

Misc Debian Work

WordPress maintenance. I mentored Pablo Vasquez to do his first small contribution to the WordPress packaging. I really appreciate this but he’s not yet ready to assume maintenance of a big package like WordPress on his own. I got multiple other offers of help and pinged them all while filing #733726 to coordinate the work on the new upstream version. But I got no reply Handing over packages to new maintainers is hard…

Init system discussion. The technical committee has the hard task of picking the default init system that will replace the traditional System V init (see #727708). I followed this huge discussion closely and contributed a bit where I add something meaningful to say. Final decision is expected sometimes in January. FWIW, I share entirely Russ Allbery’s point of view in those discussions. I have been running systemd on some of my computers for a few months already.

Fixing lxc in stable. The lxc package in stable has a non-working “debian” template. I really dislike documenting that things are broken so instead of doing that in the Debian Administrator’s Handbook, I opted to do something about it. I prepared a non maintainer upload for stable (see #680469 for the problem and #732358 for the stable update request).

Misc stuff. I sponsored a tcpdf upload. I filed an enhancement request on Publican to have it keep processing instructions present in translations. I uploaded new versions of publican-librement and debian-handbook. I filed #732678 against git-buildpackage because it failed to properly call lintian when given the -A dpkg-buildpackage argument.


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

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Matthew Helmke: American Nations

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-01-06 19:01

I don’t review everything I read. Not by a long shot. I generally have 3 or 4 books being read at the same time stashed in different places in my house. Today’s book is one that I bought and that I think deserves a wider audience. It begins by separating the idea of nations from states. Nations are essentially groups of people who share a common culture, ethnic language, or historical experience. States can be made up of nations, as in the nation-states of historic France or Turkey, but nations can exist outside of states, such as the Kurdish or Palestinian nations today.

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America postulates that North America, including Canada, the United States, and Mexico (at least the northern part), is made up of eleven nations, each with its own unique historical roots, norms, mores, and cultures and that it is the differences between these nations that create the political and occasionally violent turmoil in the region, especially within the United States.

The author uses a historical narrative to describe the beginnings of each nation, and specifically the reasons its founders felt it necessary to leave their established homes elsewhere and settle in a new land. Some wanted to create religious utopias. Others wanted to escape the control of tyrants. Still others wanted to find a land that they themselves could control as new tyrants, feudal masters of their own hierarchical kingdoms. Native Americans are not forgotten, but just as in history, they are primarily relegated here to the role of conquered indigenous and their histories and interactions are mostly, but not completely, ignored except to factually and clearly describe the dastardly ways with which native peoples were usually treated.

Maps from the book have been published in articles like this one from Tufts Magazine from Tufts University and are worth a look at this point in the description. The linked article also gives a listing and short description of each nation, long enough to give a sense of the idea, but not enough to give the full argument.

The book has left me with several takeaways, and these are why I think it is worth reading for anyone with an interest in North American, and especially USA history, politics, and culture.

  • Talking about red states vs blue states or Republicans vs Democrats or even The North vs The South forces extreme simplification of more complex issues, beliefs, and trends.
  • Thinking that “everyone in the Midwest” USA thinks or believes the same is naive–this is actually one of the more diverse sections of the country, which is why it always seems to be the power broker or swing voting area. In fact, it has historically been the buffer between the Yankee north and the Deep South extremes of the spectrum on almost every debate.
  • American history is presented very differently to children in each of these national areas. The obvious example is that what people who grew up in Yankeedom call “The Civil War” is called “The War Between the States” in the Deep South and often also in Tidewater and Greater Appalachia. However, this is only an obvious example and are there many less-obvious examples that I didn’t realize exist.
  • The men who made the decisions while creating the United States of America as a state sharply disagreed on many issues and for its first hundred years it was not certain the state would persist.

American Nations gives a clear description of each group, its stated motives, and its actions and uses these to dispassionately explain thought and voting trends and more across the areas. It follows these across time as historical events unfold that cause power to rise and fall, especially as the nations expand geographically and how each chose to do so–note, each nation did so very differently from the others. The intent is to help the reader grasp the layers of meaning, communication, alternate understandings and perceptions of events that make up the continent and especially the United States. Knowing this helps both the insider and the outsider grasp the difficulty inherent in trying to unite people across the nations toward any common goal.

As a supplement to a typical (lacking) education in North American and especially American history, I consider this book a quality companion to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States; this book is less political, but I don’t think it will be less transforming for the reader.

Disclosure: I was NOT given my copy of this book by the publisher as a review copy. See also: Are All Book Reviews Positive?

Michael Rooney: Freelancing: 2 Years of Learning and Evolution

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-01-06 18:45

Last year was my second year as a freelance programmer, and I’d like to continue my habit of retrospectives, so here’s another. My primary work philosophy has been to figure out how much I need to earn each month, and then work as part-time as possible to earn that amount.

2012 was a sort of proof-of-concept of that strategy, and demonstrated success in the various aspects of that: I was able to accurately predict how much money I’d need, I was able to land gigs to earn that money, and I greatly enjoyed all the extra free time I had as a result.

Based on the success of 2012, I felt very comfortable in 2013 to dial back my hours even more. Here’s what my monthly hours looked like over the past two years:

2012 (the left half) was erratic while in 2013 (the right half) I worked less, but more consistently. In 2012 I averaged about 13 hours per week, while last year I averaged about 8. What is most interesting is that I was able to reduce my weekly hours by 62% while only reducing my annual income by 12%. That’s because last year I was able to increase my effective hourly rate by about 53% compared to 2012.

I didn’t change the hourly rate I advertise to clients, so how did I increase my effective hourly rate?

  1. Preferring project-based contracts to hourly contracts. These allow me to quote a fixed price, and the faster I get the project done, the more per hour I make. Having had good experience in 2012, I felt confident enough in my estimates to push for more project-based contracts in 2013, which have proven to be much more profitable.
  2. Recurring income. I’m now covering 26% of my monthly budget with recurring payments for hosting and support, whereas I ended 2012 at around 15%. I’ve previously spent some time making sure my hosting and deployment is unified and simple, so while I almost doubled my recurring income year over year, I certainly didn’t have to double the amount of work I have to do each month to keep all the sites up and running well.

It’s also nice to see that my client base is becoming more diversified and that I’m relying less on any particular client as an income source:

  • Number of clients invoiced. 2012: 6, 2013: 9
  • Per-client average. 2012: $12,595, 2013: $7,418

For 2014, I expect I’ll continue working around 8 hours per week, and focus on building Django apps from scratch, which are my favorite projects and lead to recurring revenue. I’ll also continue working on personal incubation projects like BatchedInbox; I’d love to be partially supporting myself with those. Definitely let me know what your contracting or salaried experience has taught you, and if you’ve got any questions or suggestions!


Julian Andres Klode: python-apt now native Python 3 code

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-01-06 16:46

Today I made an important change to the python-apt code: It is now native Python 3 code (but also works under Python 2). The previous versions all run 2to3 during the build process to create a Python 3 version. This is no longer needed, as the code is now identical.

As part of that change, python-apt now only supports Python 2.7, Python 3.3, and newer. I’m using some features only present in 3.3 like Python2 unicode literal syntax in order to keep the code simple.

Here’s how I did it:

I took the Python 2 code and ran 2to3 -f print -x future on it. This turned every print statement in a call to the print function. I then went ahead and added a “from __future__ import print_function” to the top of each module. This was the first commit.

For the second commit, I ran 2to3 -p -x future to convert the remaining stuff to Python 3, and then undid some changes (like unicode literals) and fixed the rest of the changes to work under both Python 2 and 3. Sometimes I added a top-level code like:

if sys.version_info_major >= 3: unicode = str

So I could use unicode in the code for the Python 2 cases.

I used various backported modules like io and stuff only available in Python 2.7, so dropped support for Python 2.6.

Filed under: Debian, Python

Canonical Design Team: New year links

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-01-06 13:43

Happy new year!

Here are a couple of links that have been flying around the London office since we returned. The Verge did a recap of their most influential people of 2013.


And there’s a report from JWT pointing at some nice trends, manifestations and insights for 2014 (thank you, Daniel, for the link).

Sam Hewitt: Moka 2.0 &amp; Faba

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-01-06 00:00

After nearly 3 months of work, Moka 2.0 is finally released, along with its sister icon set Faba.

What’s new in Moka?

This new Moka is more standards-compliant on the Linux desktop.

It’s now solely a set of stylized icons, and it relies heavily on other icon themes for many of the system icons (folders, mimetypes, action icons, statuses, etc.), hence the spin-off and creation of Faba.

You can read up about it and download it on the project website:

Moka Icon Theme

What’s Faba?

Faba is actually three/four icons themes:

  1. A base icon theme (folders, mimetypes, actions, etc.)
  2. A symbolic icon theme
  3. Two sets of monochrome icons for desktop environments with panels.

The monochrome and symbolic icon sets are pretty complete, but the base set is currently pretty barebones –effectively just folders– and it inherits many icons. But as it grows it will evolve into a more complete theme.

Again, you can read up about it and download it on the project website:

Faba Icon Theme

John Baer: AX Ubuntu Theme

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2014-01-05 18:47

I am pleased to announce the AX Ubuntu Theme for Saucy Salamander is available for download. AX is a modification of default Ambiance theme with tweaks and polish added for an improved user experience.


One of the primary design elements of a GTK theme is color. The challenge is the color accuracy of computer screens are generally unreliable. The orange on one screen may become more red on another.

Ubuntu is all about orange and a design goal of AX is to use an orange which displays well even if the color accuracy of the display is not so good.

Another trend in technology design is to become more flat. Google themes are generally very flat and the new iOS 7 follows this trend as well. Another design goal of AX is to be more flat.

The above screen shot is of AisleRiot’s Klondike solitaire. The window title bar and tool bars are themed dark and the menu high lights are orange. The text is themed white for good contrast.

Many themes use shades of a single color to add variety but for this version I decided to step out of the box and use different compliments instead. The above screen shot of the Ubuntu sound control and progress bar show this in action.

I like traditional scroll bars and AX supports them as the screen shot of the Appearance Control widget demonstrates.

The final screen shot shows the relatively new File Manager in action.

Installation Steps

The targeted platform for this theme is Ubuntu 13.10.

1. Download the installation package here.

2. Expand the Archive.

3. Open a terminal window by pressing the ctrl-alt-t keys at the same time or select Terminal from the menu.

Type the following commands.

  • MyPC: ~$ cd Downloads/AX-Install
  • MyPC: ~$ sudo bash
  • [sudo] password for MyPC: **********

5. Confirm the Installation.

To begin using Ambiance X, log out and log in.

Updating / Removing AmbianceX

In the event your desire becomes to revert back to Ambiance or any other theme, remove Ambiance X by running the script (step 3).

Overlay Scrollbars

By default AX turns off overlay scroll bars. The installation package includes two additional scripts (DisableUbuntuScrollbars / EnableUbuntuScrollbars) to permit changing this functionality.


The post AX Ubuntu Theme appeared first on j-Baer.


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