Slightly late to the game, Kubuntu now has a Twitter and Facebook account to join the Google+ account. New headlines will go there and we've a fancy account from the nice people at SoDash that makes it easy to interact. Give us a Like or a Tweet.
A sister project of Kubuntu is Project Neon, daily builds of KDE Software you can install alongside your normal software to test. Neon 5 is the packages for KDE Frameworks 5 and Plasma 5 and there is also a weekly ISO made (Friday update should be arriving shortly) with the latest Plasma 5 desktop.
It’s pleasing to see various reviews of Plasma 5 using Neon as the easiest way to test the next generation in KDE Software and most importantly take pretty screen shots. The Screenshots of KDE Plasma Next beta 1 article on LInuxBSDos.com takes a look around the desktop. Datamotion’s article KDE’s Risky Gamble on New Interface takes a sceptical look at desktop redesigns “Still, KDE is showing signs of caution, so it might manage its re-design better than its rivals did”. We think it will!
As we enter the final months before the first Ubuntu phones ship from our partners Meizu and Bq, the numbers of apps, users and downloads continues to grow at a steady pace. Today I’m excited to announce that we have more than ten thousand unique users of Ubuntu on phones or tablets!Users
Ubuntu phone (and tablet) users sign into their Ubuntu One account on their device in order to download or update the applications on their phone. This allows us to provide many useful features that users expect coming from Android or iOS, such as being able to re-install their collection of apps on a new phone or after resetting their current one, or browsing the store’s website (coming soon) and having the option to install an app directly to their device from there. As a side effect, it means we know how many unique Ubuntu One accounts have connected to the store to in order to download an app, and that number has this week passed the 10,000 mark.Excitement
Not only is this a milestone, but it’s down right amazing when you consider that there are currently no phones available to purchase with Ubuntu on them. The first phones from OEMs will be shipping later this year, but for now there isn’t a phone or tablet that comes with the new Ubuntu device OS on it. That means that each of these 10,000 people have purchased (or already had) either a supported Nexus device, or are using one of the community ports, and either wiped Android off them in favor of Ubuntu, or are dual booting. If this many people are willing to install the beta release of Ubuntu phone on their device, just imagine how many more will want to purchase a phone with Ubuntu pre-installed and with full support from the manufacturer.Pioneers
In addition to users of Ubuntu phone, we’ve also seen a steady growth in the number of applications and application developers targeting Ubuntu phone and using the Ubuntu SDK. To celebrate them, we created Ubuntu App Pioneers page, and the first batch of Pioneers t-shirts are being sent out to those intrepid developers who, again, are so excited about a platform that isn’t even available to consumers yet that they’ve dedicated their time and energy into making it better for everyone.
This post is part of the series ‘Making ubuntu.com responsive‘.
Performance has always been one of the top priorities when it came to building the responsive ubuntu.com. We started with a list of performance snags and worked to improve each one as much as possible in the time we had. Here is a quick run through of the points we collected and the way we managed to improve them.Asset caching
We now have a number of websites using our web style guide. Because of this, we needed to deliver assets on both http and secure https domains. We decided to build an asset server to support the guidelines and other sites that require asset hosting.
This gave us the ability to increase the far future expires (FFE) of each file. By doing so the file is cached by the server and not resupplied. This gives us a much faster round trip speed. But as we are still able to update a single file we cannot set the FFE too far in the future. We plan to resolve this with a new and improved assets system, which is currently under development.
The new asset system will have a internal frontend to upload a binary file. This will provide a link to the asset with a 6 character hexadecimal attached to the file name.
The new system restricts the ability to edit or update a file. Only upload a new one and change the link in the markup. This guarantees the asset to stay the same forever.Minification and concatenation
We introduced a minification and concatenation step to the build of the web style guide. This saves precious bytes and reduces the number of requests performed by each page.
Images were the main issue when it came to performance.
We had a look at the file sizes of some of our key images (like the ones in the tablet section of the site) and were shocked to discover we hadn’t been treating our visitors’ bandwidth kindly.
After analysing a handful of images, we decided to have a look into our assets folder and flag the images that were over 100 KB as a first go.
One of the largest time consuming jobs in this project was converting all images that could to SVGs. This meant creating pictograms and illustrations as vectors from earlier PNGs. Any images that could not be recreated as a vector graphic were heavy compressed. This squeezed an alarming amount out of the original file.
We continued this for every image on the site. By doing so the total reduction across the site was 7.712MB.Reduce required fonts
We currently load a large selection of the Ubuntu font.
<link href='//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Ubuntu:400,300,300italic,400italic,700,700italic%7CUbuntu+Mono' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css' />
The designers are exploring the patterns of the present and ideal future to discover unneeded types. Since the move from normal font weight to light a few months ago as our base font style, we rarely use the bold weight (700) anymore, resorting to normal (400) for highlighting text.
Once we determine which weights we can drop, we will be able to make significant savings, as seen below:
Reducing loaded fonts: before and afterUsing SVG
Taking the leap to SVGs over PNG caused a number of issues. We decided to load SVGs as opposed to inline SVGs to keep our markup clean and easy to read and update. This meant we needed to provide four different coloured images for each pictogram.
We introduced Modernizr to give us an easy way to detect browsers that do not support SVGs and replace the image with PNGs of the same path and name.Remove unnecessary enhancements
One of the things in our roadmap is to remove unused styles remaining in the stylesheets. There are a number of solutions for this such as grunt-uncss.Conclusion
There is still a lot to do but we have definitely broken the back of the work to steer ubuntu.com in the right direction. The aim is to push the site up to 90+ in the speed page tests in the next wave of updates.Reading list
Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.When I get home, I'm going to take down a plaque that has proudly hung in my own home office for nearly 10 years now. In 2004, I was named an IBM Master Inventor, recognizing sustained contributions to IBM's patent portfolio.
When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.And I feel the exact same way! When I was an impressionable newly hired engineer at IBM, I thought patents were wonderful expressions of my own creativity. IBM rewarded me for the work, and recognized them as important contributions to my young career. Remember, in 2003, IBM was defending the Linux world against evil SCO. (Confession: I think I read Groklaw every single day.)
Yeah, I filed somewhere around 75 patents in about 4 years, 47 of which have been granted by the USPTO to date.
I'm actually really, really proud of a couple of them. I was the lead inventor on a couple of early patents defining the invention you might know today as Swype (Android) or Shapewriter (iPhone) on your mobile devices. In 2003, I called it QWERsive, as the was basically applying "cursive handwriting" to a "qwerty keyboard." Along with one of my co-inventors, we actually presented a paper at the 27th UNICODE conference in Berlin in 2005, and IBM sold the patent to Lenovo a year later. (To my knowledge, thankfully that patent has never been enforced, as I used Swype every single day.)
But that enthusiasm evaporated very quickly between 2005 and 2007, as I reviewed thousands of invention disclosures by my IBM colleagues, and hundreds of software patents by IBM competitors in the industry.
I spent most of 2005 working onsite at Red Hat in Westford, MA, and came to appreciate how much more efficiently innovation happened in a totally open source world, free of invention disclosures, black out periods, gag orders, and software patents. I met open source activists in the free software community, such as Jon maddog Hall, who explained the wake of destruction behind, and the impending doom ahead, in a world full of software patents.
Finally, in 2008, I joined an amazing little free software company called Canonical, which was far too busy releasing Ubuntu every 6 months on time, and building an amazing open source software ecosystem, to fart around with software patents. To my delight, our founder, Mark Shuttleworth, continues to share the same enlightened view, as he states in this TechCrunch interview (2012):
“People have become confused,” Shuttleworth lamented, “and think that a patent is incentive to create at all.” No one invents just to get a patent, though — people invent in order to solve problems. According to him, patents should incentivize disclosure. Software is not something you can really keep secret, and as such Shuttleworth’s determination is that “society is not benefited by software patents at all.”Software patents, he said, are a bad deal for society. The remedy is to shorten the duration of patents, and reduce the areas people are allowed to patent. “We’re entering a third world war of patents,” Shuttleworth said emphatically. “You can’t do anything without tripping over a patent!” One cannot possibly check all possible patents for your invention, and the patent arms race is not about creation at all.And while I'm still really proud of some of my ideas today, I'm ever so ashamed that they're patented.
If I could do what Elon Musk did with Tesla's patent portfolio, you have my word, I absolutely would. However, while my name is listed as the "inventor" on four dozen patents, all of them are "assigned" to IBM (or Lenovo). That is to say, they're not mine to give, or open up.
What I can do, is speak up, and formally apologize. I'm sorry I filed software patents. A lot of them. I have no intention on ever doing so again. The system desperately needs a complete overhaul. Both the technology and business worlds are healthier, better, more innovative environment without software patents.
I do take some consolation that IBM seems to be "one of the good guys", in so much as our modern day IBM has not been as litigious as others, and hasn't, to my knowledge, used any of the patents for which I'm responsible in an offensive manner.
But there are certainly those that do. Patent trolls.
Another former employer of mine, Gazzang was acquired earlier this month (June 3rd) by Cloudera -- a super sharp, up-and-coming big data open source company with very deep pockets and tremendous market potential. Want to guess what happened 3 days later? A super shady patent infringement lawsuit is filed, of course!
Protegrity Corp v. Gazzang, Inc.
Complaint for Patent InfringementCivil Action No. 3:14-cv-00825; no judge yet assigned. Filed on June 6, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut;Patents in case 7,305,707: “Method for intrusion detection in a database system” by Mattsson. Prosecuted by Neuner; George W. Cohen; Steven M. Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP. Includes 22 claims (2 indep.). Was application 11/510,185. Granted 12/4/2007.Yuck. And the reality is that happens every single day, and in places where the stakes are much, much higher. See: Apple v. Google, for instance.
Musk concludes his post:
Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.What a brave, bold, ballsy, responsible assertion!
I've never been more excited to see someone back up their own rhetoric against software patents, with such a substantial, palpable, tangible assertion. Kudos, Elon.
Moreover, I've also never been more interested in buying a Tesla. Coincidence?
Maybe it'll run an open source operating system and apps, too. Do that, and I'm sold.
During Ubuntu Online Summit today, I did a presentation on game development with Bacon2D.
Bacon2D is a game engine for QML that I've been working on. For anyone that missed the session, you can go back and watch it any time here.
I've shared the slides as well, if anyone has any questions or suggestions, please join us in #bacon2d on Freenode. You can also file bugs at https://github.com/Bacon2D/Bacon2D.
It seems Mozilla is targeting emerging markets and developing nations with $25 cell phones. This is tremendous news, and an admirable focus for Mozilla, but it is not without risk.
Bringing simple, accessible technology to these markets can have a profound impact. As an example, in 2001, 134 million Nigerians shared 500,000 land-lines (as covered by Jack Ewing in Businessweek back in 2007). That year the government started encouraging wireless market competition and by 2007 Nigeria had 30 million cellular subscribers.
This generated market competition and better products, but more importantly, we have seen time and time again that access to technology such as cell phones improves education, provides opportunities for people to start small businesses, and in many cases is a contributing factor for bringing people out of poverty.
So, cell phones are having a profound impact in these nations, but the question is, will it work with FirefoxOS?
I am not sure.
In Mozilla’s defence, they have done an admirable job with FirefoxOS. They have built a powerful platform, based on open web technology, and they lined up a raft of carriers to launch with. They have a strong brand, an active and passionate community, and like so many other success stories, they already have a popular existing product (their browser) to get them into meetings and headlines.
Success though is judged by many different factors, and having a raft of carriers and products on the market is not enough. If they ship in volume but get high return rates, it could kill them, as is common for many new product launches.
What I don’t know is whether this volume/return-rate balance plays such a critical role in developing markets. I would imagine that return rates could be higher (such as someone who has never used a cell phone before taking it back because it is just too alien to them). On the other hand, I wonder if those consumers there are willing to put up with more quirks just to get access to the cell network and potentially the Internet.
What seems clear to me is that success here has little to do with the elegance or design of FirefoxOS (or any other product for that matter). It is instead about delivering incredibly dependable hardware. In developing nations people have less access to energy (for charging devices) and have to work harder to obtain it, and have lower access to support resources for how to use new technology. As such, it really needs to just work. This factor, I imagine, is going to be more outside of Mozilla’s hands.
So, in a nutshell, if the $25 phones fail to meet expectations, it may not be Mozilla’s fault. Likewise, if they are successful, it may not be to their credit.
In this week’s show:-
- We take a look at what’s been happening in the news:
- Version 1.0 of Docker, the portable virtualisation container platform, has been released…
- Another serious security flaw has been found in OpenSSL…
- Alan Solomon, the man behind 90s anti-virus software Dr Solomon’s, has said that anti-virus software no longer works…
- Phone manufacturer Meizu have spoken out about their development of Ubuntu for their phone, the MX3…
- With more than double the crowdfunding target requested, “Superhot” is coming to Linux
- Steam hits 500 games for Linux…
- Civ 5 now on Linux (SteamOS)…
- We also take a look at what’s been happening in the community:
- And there’s an event:
- OggCamp 2014 – 4th-5th October – Oxford, UK
We’ll be back next week, when we’ll be discussing alternatives to Ubuntu One, which recently shut down, and we’ll go through your feedback.
Please send your comments and suggestions to: email@example.com
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On our Plasma 5 build status page most of the packages are now a pleasing green colour. For the first time today I installed them all and logged in and... it worked! It took a bit of removing old caches and obsolete installs that'd I'd been making in the months previously and that nice temporary Next wallpaper everyone uses doesn't really get shipped so I had to add that and the icons sometimes work and sometimes don't and there's no plasma-nm release yet so I had to grab a copy and build that before I could use the network. But with some fiddle and wee bit ay faff, it works!
Today is a beautiful day.
If you just want to try it out the Neon 5 ISO is the easiest way still. But the packages I'm pleased about today are the Next PPA packages which is the packaging Kubuntu (and hopefully Debian) will be using going forward. It doesn't co-install with Plasma 1 so only use if you want breakage and if you want to help fix breakage, join #kubuntu-devel and help out.
This post is part of the series ‘Making ubuntu.com responsive‘.
When working to make the current web style guide responsive, we made some large updates to the core Sass. We decided to update the file and folder structure of our styles. I love reading about other people or organisations Sass architectures, so I thought it would be only right to share the structure that has evolved over time here at Canonical.
Let’s get right to it.
I won’t describe each file as some are self-explanatory but let’s just go through the core files to understand the structure.
core.scss contains the core HTML element styling. Such as img, p, ul, etc. You could say this acts as a reset file customised to match our style.
core-constants.scss is home to all variables used throughout. This file contains all the set colours used on the site. Base font size and some extra grid variables used to extend the layout.
core-grid.scss holds the entire responsive grid styles. This file mainly consists of generated code from Gridinator which we extended with breakpoints to modify the layout as the viewport gets smaller. You can read more about how we did this in “Making ubuntu.com responsive: making our grid responsive”.
core-mixins.scss holds all the mixins used in our Sass.
core-templates.scss is used to hold full pages styling classes. Without applying a template class to the <body> of a page you get a standard page style, if you add a template class, you will get the styles that are appropriate for that template.
Web team front end working on the web style guide.Divide and conquer
Patterns were originally all in one huge scss file, which became difficult to maintain. So we decided to split the patterns file apart in a pattern folder. This allows us to find and work in a much more modular way. This involved manually working through the file. Removing all the components styles into a new file and import back into the same position.Naming conventions
Our mission when setting up the naming convention for our CSS was to make the markup as human readable as possible.
We decided early on to almost use a object oriented, inheritance system for large structural elements. For example, the class .row can be extended by adding the .row-enterprise class which applies a dark aubergine background and modifies the elements inside to be display correctly on a dark background.
We switch to a single class approach for small modular components, such as lists. If you apply the class .list the list items are styled with our simple Ubuntu list style. This can be modified by changing the class to .list-ubuntu or .list-canonical, which apply their corresponding branding themed bullets to the items.
The decision to use different systems arose from the desire to keep the markup clean and easy to skim read by limiting the classes applied to each element. We could have continued with the inheritance system for smaller elements but that would have lead to two or more classes (.list and .list-canonical) for each element. We felt this was overkill for every small component. For large structural elements such as rows it’s easier to start with a .row class and have added functionality and styling by adding classes.Mixins
We mainly use mixins to handle browser prefixes as we haven’t yet added a “prefixer” step to our build system.
A lot of our styles are quite specific and therefore would not benefit from being included as a mixin.A note on Block Element Module syntax
We would like to have used the Block Element Module (BEM) syntax as we think it is a good convention and easy for people external to the project to understand and use. Since we started this project back in 2013 with the above syntax, which is now used on a number of sites across the Canonical/Ubuntu web real estate, the effort to convert every class name to follow the BEM naming convention would far outweigh the benefits it would return.Conclusion
By splitting our bloated patterns file into multiple small modular files we have made it much easier to maintain and diagnose bugs within components. I would recommend anyone in a similar situation to find the time to split the components into separate files sooner rather then later. The effort grows exponentially the longer it’s left.
Introducing linting to the production of the guidelines will keep our coding style the same throughout the team and help readability to new members of the team.Reading list