ConsoleKit in GNOME 3.16 and beyond

Copy pasting from https://wiki.gnome.org/Projects/ConsoleKit. We announced this as well on distributor-list, which we expect any distributor of GNOME to be subscribed to (please do so!). Discussion was held on desktop-devel-list.

ConsoleKit is a framework for registering and enumerating login and user sessions. It is currently deprecated and unmaintained, though the project was recently forked into a backward compatible ConsoleKit2 project. that is getting limited maintenance.

Alternative options

The functionality of ConsoleKit has been superseded by logind which is a systemd component. logind provides nicer APIs and better integration with the system. It supports multiple seats per-machine, and has a mechanism for provisioning devices to unprivileged programs. Although systemd is not available for all systems, there have been a number of initiatives to fill the gap left by ConsoleKit, including:

  • LoginKit (logind compatible api on top of ConsoleKit2);
  • systemd-shim (limited support for some of the systemd apis);
  • systembsd (a reimplementation of the systemd apis portable to BSD distributions).

GNOME 3.16

Some GNOME components still support ConsoleKit in a best-effort, last-ditch-fallback sense, though, the ConsoleKit codepaths aren’t as widely tested. Some components now require logind to function properly. Distributions that wish to ship without logind in GNOME 3.16 need to patch ConsoleKit support back in to those components:

GNOME 3.18 onwards

For GNOME 3.18 we expect anyone not being able to use logind to make use of LoginKit, systemd-shim or systembsd. Likely more modules will remove ConsoleKit codepaths.

Bad luck or Valentine gift: Mageia 5 beta 3 is out!

useless

The release date was a close call between Friday, the 13th and Valentine’s day… but finally, Mageia 5 beta 3 is available for tests. You will find more information about it on the Release Notes page.

The road was long and strewn with pitfalls, but the Mageia community is just great and the ISOs are finally available.

After a looooong meeting dedicated to the review of all release critical bugs, a lot of fixes were released that allowed us to finalize beta 3.

EFI is now supported properly on all 64-bits ISOs, but we still need your feedbacks on this.

This is now the home stretch. We do need your help more than ever. Please report any problems that you experience in the forums, mailing lists or, preferably, in Bugzilla. Also, don’t forget to check the Errata.

(Image source: xkcd)

Fosdem 2015, looking back with pleasure.

It’s one week later, but we’re still full of inspiration from the great time we had at FOSDEM.

We’ve been very privileged to be able to be there (again), to meet one another, to meet many interested visitors at our booth, to meet great people from other projects, to go to talks on a wide variety of Open Source related subjects, to have the General Assembly, to work together on bugs and improvements, to enjoy the Mageia dinner together.

Hey, did I just finish my report? ;-)

You’ll want to know more. Who of us were there? Check our wiki page: https://wiki.mageia.org/en/Fosdem_2015

Some others would have been there, too, but were hindered by circumstances that suddenly occurred. Many more would have been there, if they hadn’t lived too far away or been too busy with other things that must come first, or if the costs hadn’t been too high.

We hope that one day (one FOSDEM) it’ll be possible for all who’d like to, to be there!

It was very nice to meet some contributors we had never met before, and to enjoy their very positive input. 

It was just as nice to see all contributors we had already met before, and to enjoy their everlasting good spirits.

And it was great to meet many Mageia users and people who wanted to learn more about Mageia.

Colin and tmb spent much of their time attending talks about key components in Mageia, catching up with various upstream projects and people. In between they’ve been working in the back of our booth (tmb even managed to push new kernels to Mageia 4 updates_testing) and kindly responding to requests we had (For who doesn’t know: they are sysadmins and also maintain very important core packages, so they get more than their share of questions and requests).

All who helped at the booth did a very good job managing it and supplying information, CDs and stickers to visitors and selling Mageia t-shirts to those who liked to have one. Saturday was a remarkably busy day at the stand. It was good to notice that visitors who had never heard of Mageia before, have become rare.

Ennael miraculously managed to keep the General Assembly within the one-hour time frame we had, at the same time leading it into being a very constructive, but also relaxed, meeting, in spite of the fact that we could have used some more time. A link to a summary of the GA will be added later.

Before and after the GA, too, many of us have used the time together to work on improving Mageia, ranging from improving a buggy script to finding a solution for unwanted greylisting of a contributor to working on AdminPanel (the libyui port of our drakxtools), and much more.

Of course there was also time for meals (and Mageia Dinner!) together, for enjoying Belgian beers and even for long walks for those who enjoy that. In general: there was plenty of time for having fun together, and we fully used and enjoyed that time.

We hope we’ll meet you there next year!

Distributing games and applications

Two new games for GNOME 3.16

Within a short period, two people showed up with proposals for games for inclusion with GNOME 3.16. One is a 2048 clone, the other is a revival of Atomix (last maintenance was GNOME 2.14). Both proposals seem to be maintained by just one person.

The 2048 clone might use a not-yet finished library. The usage of that library will help development of the library (easier when you have use cases, etc). Atomix needs to be ported from old technologies to the latest ones. If I’m not mistaken, I think I encouraged the inclusion of Atomix during the 2.x days.

I’m quite looking forward to having both games available on my machine. Being a packager for Mageia means that I can basically decide when that’ll be. Though Mageia currently is gearing up to Mageia 5 and that put limits on what I can do.

Game development by one person

The number of people on average making a games development by has differed a lot over since 1980s. Initially it was often one person, eventually big teams, then smaller again (flash games), etc. Jeff Wofford wrote a very detailed log of his experiences pursuing game development. According to the blog, one-man game development is done out of interest, but often also to make a (good) living.

Making money from game development in recent times is very short lived. If you make a game, it’ll quickly get cloned. Quite interesting is the number of available applications in the iOS app store.

Number of available apps in the Apple App Store from July 2008 to September 2014

I have no idea how long it takes to create a nice game for a mobile iOS. I do think above graph impresses me: more than 1.2 million apps within 4.5 years. How long have distributions been around? I recall trying either Red Hat 5.0 or 5.2.

How would this work under the distribution model?

With the distribution model and e.g. the 2048 game, say the game was originally made for Linux. Then once the development is over, you’ll have to persuade various distribution packages to include your game. This is easiest if you’re known. So aligning yourself with GNOME makes this process easier for you. To ensure your game is available under as many distributions as possible, you’ll have to search for the various distributions, then per distribution ensure that your game gets packaged.

Packing does have various benefits from a technical standpoint. No duplication of libraries, entire QA process, etc. I package at Mageia and I don’t like anything that’s not packaged. I basically won’t install it unless there’s a package for it.

Say your spend 2 weeks of development on your game until you have the first version that you want to beta test. After that you need to convince distributions to package it. Then these distributions have to ship their stable versions. After which your users have to upgrade their distributions. If you release a new version every 2 weeks (easily possible if your game is under active development): how likely will your users run the latest version? Distributions usually freeze their distribution to increase quality. This can take anywhere from a month to 4 months. Various distributions also require freeze exceptions for new versions of software.

To notice new versions, distributions use various methods. Fedora tries to download a potential higher number than whatever is within the distribution. It uses that to notify the packager. Then for various well known download sites (e.g. download.gnome.org) it checks the directory. At Mageia we check various download sites as well as other distributions. Which gets messy as we sometimes use a slightly different name.

If your developing a game or small application for Linux, the experience is just terrible.

xdg-app: A different trade-off

Various people within GNOME are creating a freedesktop.org additional way to distribute games and applications. Meaning: the intention is that it works not just for GNOME, nor just for one distribution. The details are available on https://wiki.gnome.org/Projects/SandboxedApps, though I’ll just copy/paste the two main goals:

  • We want to make it possible for 3rd parties to create and distribute applications that works on multiple distributions.
  • We want to run the applications with as little access as possible to the host. (For example user files or network access)

On Feb 7 2015 at DevConf.cz, Alexander Larsson gave a talk about application sandboxing:

As the talk is about 45 minutes I’ll just recap a few things from it:

  • Applications/games rely on a runtime
  • Runtime: Something like GNOME 3.16 (or KDE, etc)
    The GNOME 3.16 is around 400MB. The idea is that there aren’t too many runtimes and multiple applications can rely on one runtime. In case you have multiple runtimes and there are duplicate files between the runtime, the space is only used once. Further, when you update a runtime, you only download the differences (thanks to OSTree, see the LWN writeup).
  • Demo: The presentation includes a demo about a recently funded application, Builder.
    This application is still being developed. It requires libraries from GNOME 3.16. That’s still under development so usually (unless you run development versions of distributions), you’re pretty out of luck trying this out.
  • Sandboxing/separation: The sandboxing is not perfect yet
    Requires more work (pulseaudio and more). Further, any X app will always be able to record your keystrokes if they want. Meaning: Wayland. Further, there are some interdependencies between host OS and the runtime (for details see the talk).
  • You can disable access to your network, your own files/homedirectory, etc
    It uses things like pid namespaces, etc (see talk for details)
  • You can install either system-wise or within your homedirectory

Now I didn’t fully watch the entire talk, nor read all of the discussion around it. I know that NVidia will only release their proprietary versions which will work with Wayland beginning of 2016 or so. The talk mentions wanting to use kdbus, which doesn’t have to be systemd-only, but, well…

It’s unfortunate that this talk wasn’t given at FOSDEM. There was one talk about Wayland+systemd application sandboxing, but I found it very lacking (I expected something like what Alexander Larsson spoke about).

Closing points

I skipped over many details in this post. If you want more details, see the various links, post a comment or ask the people who actually know. For that and also if you want to work on something technically interesting: join the gnome-os-list mailing list.

Retail chains in The Netherlands

In The Netherlands, various retail chains are either having difficulties, or they’re going bankrupt. Having it difficult: HEMA (huge stores though smaller than V&D), V&D (huge stores). Bankrupt/payment issues: Free Record Shop (CDs), Halfords (bikes/stuff for your car), Mexx (clothing) and Schoenenreus (shoes). These are stores you often see in any city centre. At least a few of these chains were taken over by investment companies.

It’s hard to care. Often they sell exactly the same Chinese products you find everywhere. There’s nothing really unique to any store, so I often compare chains by the prices they offer.

For HEMA and V&D, the chain Action offers a much smaller amount of products, but much much cheaper. Further, Action often completely changes whatever they offer. This makes it interesting to go back to the store a lot. V&D and HEMA: I know what they offer, I only go there when Action doesn’t have it in stock. V&D is trying to lower their costs by demanding 40% less rent and no rent payment for 4 months. The company they’re renting from is trying to evict them. Officially they can easily rent out the space to others, though somehow you can also benefit from leaving a building completely empty.

For clothing, Primark offers clothing for much reduced prices. A t-shirt can be had for a few Euros. A while back I bought loads of shirts and t-shirts, the most expensive item was 4 EUR. Quality wise Primark is questionable, but other clothing chains are not that much better. Price wise, it can be more economical to buy the lower quality Primark version.

For bikes, loads of bike shops rely on the tax benefit that existed when you buy a bike to travel to work. The maximum price of a lot of bikes exactly match the maximum you could get as tax benefit. Internet bike shops were often excluded from the tax benefit, while stores offering the tax benefit we often much more expensive. Resulting in most of the tax benefit mostly actually going to the shops. This tax benefit ended starting from 2015. I won’t be sad if loads of bike shops go out of business. Though according to the bike shops, their business has increased due to businesses now providing company bikes. I don’t believe them.

Schoenenreus offers bad quality shoes for a lowish price. It actually doesn’t work out at all. A shoe bought there might be worn out in 1 month, max 3. It shouldn’t be that costly to make shoes or offer better quality. I think people not having money for a better quality shoe probably found a chain which offers better quality for the same price, making the business model of Schoenenreus obsolete. It seems that in The Netherlands you can either buy a nice looking shoe and it’ll wear out, or buy a really ugly one that’ll last you for years. Most well known brands seem to have lowered their quality.

Various chains that do well are considered to be cheap while they aren’t (Mediamarkt), are cheap (Action), refocussed on offering unique products (Bijenkorf). I do wonder what’ll happen to the rarely needed stuff which is only offered by a few shops. As well as the space occupied by the huge stores. I do hope that stores adapt to the changes. Just because you were successful or your store existed for a long time doesn’t mean you’re entitled to continued success.

FOSDEM is coming!

And Mageia will be there!

FOSDEM 2015 will be this weekend (January 31-February 1), and we plan on being there! How about you?
As the previous 4 years (here, here, here and here), we will have a booth in Building K, first floor with T-shirts, flyers, CDs and stickers! And contributors to talk to! Have you ever wondered who the faces are behind all the hard work that goes into your favorite distro? Wonder no more! Just come meet us! We promise not to bite.
We will be showing off Mageia 5 Beta 2, so you can catch a glimpse of what’s planned for our March release.
We will also have our annual General Assembly which is another occasion to see how Mageia works and discuss with us: join us at 16h in building H room h3.228 .
And most importantly, we will have our annual Mageia Dinner! If you want to come, put your name down on the Wiki .

We hope to see you there!

Mageia 5 beta 2 is out! A story of badluck

After several delays the beta 2 version of Mageia 5 is finally out! You can find more information here.

But, it seems that yet again we need to postpone the Mageia 5 release.

Due to various difficulties with EFI boot, grub 2 and a few other things, we need a little more time. Only a few members of our QA team have EFI-based machines, so if you do have such equipment please test Beta 2 and report your experience.

Our QA, Packagers and ISO teams are working around the clock to bring us all a stable and secure release, but they still need to work out a few kinks.

Therefore, we are planning one more Beta release before the release candidate. So the final timeline looks like this:

  • Beta 3 – February 3
  • RC – February 24
  • Final release – March 10

We’re sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and understanding, and in case you were wondering if there’s anything you could do to help, just ask the teams!

We need as many people as possible to try this beta in order to identify any remaining problems. Please report any problems that you experience in the forums, mailing lists or, preferably, in bugzilla. Also don’t forget to check the errata.

Christmas rest for the braves

christmas_back_homeWe planned initially to release Mageia 5 beta 2 around the 16th of December. We still have some work left to complete to release a proper beta 2 that would drive us through to the final release.

Releasing development ISOs is a good way to test all the functions of the installer with the largest possible scope of use cases and variety of hardware. We still have some issues left with EFI integration and some tricky bugs in the installer. So in order to allow some time to fix them and also to still enjoy the Christmas period with friends and family, it has been decided to delay beta 2 until the 6th of January 2015, the initial date of the RC, and then postpone the final release.

We will communicate on the final release date as soon as beta 2 is released so that we can have a better view of the remaining work to be done.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a great year for 2015 and we hope to see you ready on deck to test beta 2 release when it’s out !

(Image source : xkcd)

It’s Christmas in FOSS-land!

largeGComprisLogoOr Hannuka or Kwanzaa or the solstice or… you get the picture. Whatever holiday you celebrate, it’s here!

And in the spirit of warmth and light and giving, Mageia is embarking on (what we hope will be) a yearly tradition where we donate to a project in the FOSS community. “What is this?” you might ask, or even “But I donated to Mageia, not some small project I’ve never even heard of!” and those are, of course, excellent questions.

See, Mageia is a community-driven Linux distribution. Everybody here volunteers and does the work because he or she can and because they want to contribute. The money that we collect in donations goes to paying for server costs, hardware repairs and upgrades, supporting booths and handing out merchandise at conventions (and in one case, flying in a repair person when everything broke).

But the Mageia community is part of a much larger community, the FOSS community (FOSS stands for Free and Open Source Software). Thanks to you (yes, you personally!) we’ve grown to become one of the biggest Linux distributions out there. When we first started we were quite small, but we’ve grown up very quickly. Now we are in a position to help the little guy. We’ll be using this gift to help out a project that we feel close to, so it will always be a project that we package.

This gift is (relatively speaking) rather small, but it’s the thought that counts. So we’d like to take this opportunity to spotlight a small but very useful open source software project.
Almost all of the applications that we use in a Mageia system are developed by other open source projects. Some of these are large and reasonably well funded, such as KDE, Gnome and Mozilla, but there are many others that depend on the support of very small groups of dedicated individuals. One such project is GCompris, which is presently engaged in a fund raising drive to enable it to modernize the appearance of its software.

So we have decided that this year we will be donating 250€ to GCompris. This year’s choice is built on that simple point: as a distribution, we are working hard to make Linux comfy for most users. Many children first see Linux through GCompris (which means “I understood” when pronounced in French).

GCompris is a software suite of educational activities for children from 2 to 10. Helping to introduce children to Linux helps the whole Linux world to grow :). Of course, our donation is only a small part of what GCompris is trying to raise, so if you have some money that you budgeted for a good cause and are looking for that good cause, we think that GCompris is it.

This time we picked GCompris ourselves, but next year, you can have a say in the matter. Towards the end of 2015 (we’re not sure exactly when) we’ll ask you what you think a worthy cause for our yearly gift will be. So if you happen to see one, make a note of it.
May you have a merry end-of-year festivities.

Mageia team

Moving to Stockholm

Stockholm

[This post is off-topic for some Planet readers, sorry for it. I just expect to get some help with free software communities.]

Exciting times are coming to me before the end of year. Next week (probably) I am going to Stockholm to live for 5 months. I am getting an visiting researcher position at  KTH – Royal Institute of Technology as part of my PhD course. I will work with PSMIX group – Power System Management with related Information Exchange, leaded by Prof. Lars Nordström.

The subject of my project is the modelling and simulation of smart grids (power system plus a layer of communication and decision making automation) features using multi-agent systems. I expect to work with the simulation platform developed by PSMIX based in Raspberry PI and SPADE framework. The platform is described in this paper.

Well, I am very anxious with this travel because two things: the communication in English and the Sweden winter. The second is my main concern. Gosh, going out from the all the days Brazilian summer to the Nordic winter! :'( But ♫ I will survive ♪ (I expect). ;)

If you know someone to help me with tips about apartment rent, I will be very glad. Rent accommodation in Stockholm is very hard and expensive.

Thanks and I will send news!