MATE 1.18 landed in Debian testing

This is to announce that finally all MATE Desktop 1.18 components have landed in Debian testing (aka buster).


Again a big thanks to the packaging team (esp. Vangelis Mouhtsis and Martin Wimpress, but also to Jeremy Bicha for constant advice and Aron Xu for joining the Debian+Ubuntu MATE Packaging Team and merging all the Ubuntu zesty and artful branches back to master).

Fully Available on all Debian-supported Architectures

The very special thing about this MATE 1.18 release for Debian is that MATE is now available on all Debian hardware architectures. See "Buildd" column on our DDPO overview page [1]. Thanks to all the people from the Debian porters realm for providing feedback to my porting questions.


@DebConf17: Ad-hoc BoF: Bits from the Debian+Ubuntu MATE Packaging Team

On Tuesday, late afternoon, at DebConf17, I offered an ad-hoc BoF about the current status of the MATE Desktop packaging efforts in Debian and Ubuntu. I need to get this written down, before DebConf17 feels too far away...

Unfortunately, I scheduled that BoF with Joey Hess's talk about his post-Debian life, which attracted many people. So, only a small group of people came together to share and discuss about the current status of MATE in Debian and Ubuntu.

Ongoing efforts around MATE in Debian and Ubuntu

A quick summary of ongoing efforts was provided and also a collection of URLs for reporting bugs, looking up packaging status, etc. was listed:

Cross-Distro Packaging Workflow

The workflow of Debian and Ubuntu packaging in the MATE Packaging Team was described in detail (basically, all packages go through Debian, only exception being freeze states of this or that distro) and the benefit of the close cooperation between the two projects underlined. We reduce the packaging effort tremendously by working very closely together.

@DebConf17: Ad-hoc BoF: Debian for the Remote Desktop

On Thursday at DebConf17, all people interested in using this or that Remote Desktop solution on Debian (as a server, as a client, as both) came together for a BoF.

Sharing about Usage Scenarios

Quite some time we informally shared with one another what technologies and software we use for remote access to Debian machines and what the experiences are.

The situation in Debian and on GNU/Linux in general is that many technical approaches exist, all of them have certain features and certain limitations. The composition of features and limitations finally lead the users to choosing one or another technology as his or her favourite solution.

The Debian Remote Maintainers Team

On the developers' side, Dominik George and I set up a packaging team for Remote Desktop related software in Debian. A packaging team that we invite everyone who is maintaining such software in the widest sense to join:

'DebianRemote' namespace on the Debian Wiki

For users of Debian, the group agreed, we need an overview page (on that provides an entry point for Debian on the Remote Desktop. An entry point that provides user information as well as developer information.

A skeleton of this wiki page, I have just set up (thanks to Vagrant for taking some notes in Gobby during the BoF):

However, the page still contains loads of FIXMEs, so the actual work only now really starts.

@DebConf17: Work for Debian and FLOSS I got done during DebCamp and DebConf... and Beyond...

People I Met and will Remember

  • Angela, my wife, I met daily on Jabber. Thanks for letting me go to this great DebConf17 conference and keeping our family up and running
  • Andreas asking people to either impersonate his wife or adoptive daughter for a photo shooting. You gave such a touching talk on Friday, together with Minh from Vietnam.
  • Holger for nagging us about stone age bugs in the Debian Blends package and the outdated software list in Debian Edu (Kernel 2.6.32 package are finally not mentioned anymore)
  • Vagrant, Foetini and Alkis for there efforts on LTSP and their success in Greece with bringing Debian into Greek schools
  • Tiago, Jerome and all the others from the local team, providing us with such great food and support.

@DebConf 2017: Ayatana Indicators

On last Tuesday, I gave a 20 min talk about Ayatana Indicators at DebConf 17 in Montreal.

Ayatana Indicators Talk

The talk had video coverage, so big thanks to the DebConf video team for making it possible to send the below video link around to people in the world:

The document of notes shown in the video is available on Debian's Infinote (Gobby) server:

$ sudo apt-get install gobby
$ sudo gobby infinote:// 

The major outcome of this talk was getting to know Dimitri John Ledkov from the Foundation Team at Canonical Ltd. We agreed on investigating the following actions, targetting the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release and later on Debian 10 (aka buster):

Upstream Todos

  • We need to find out what indicator applets are still needed (already there: application, session, power; w-i-p: messages, not yet touch: sound, datetime, transfer). If you maintain a desktop environment and need indicator support, please contact us.
  • Rip-out liburl-dispatcher and Mir related code from all ayatana-indicator-* code projects (upstream)
  • Build-time disable phone and tablet related code (upstream).

@DebConf17: Story Telling about Debian Edu in Northern Germany

Last Monday, I gave a 20min talk about our little FLOSS school project "IT-Zukunft Schule" at the Debian Conference 17 in Montreal.

The talk had video coverage, so may want to peek in, if you couldn't manage to watch the life stream:

I'd like to share some major outcomes (so far) of this talk.

  1. I realized how attached I am to "IT-Zukunft Schule" and how much it means to me that our kids grow up in a world of freedom and choice. Also and esp. when it comes to choosing your daily communication tools and computer working environment
  2. I met Foteini Tsiami and Alkis Georgopoulos from Greece. They work on LTSP and have deployed 1000+ schools in Greece with LTSP + Debian GNU/Linux + MATE Desktop Environment
  3. I met Vagrant Cascadian who is the maintainer of LTSP in Debian and also a major LTSP upstream contributor
  4. I received a lot of fine feedback that was very encouraging to go on with our local work in Schleswig-Holstein

If you have some more time for watching DebConf talks on video, I dearly recommend the talk given by Alkis and Foteini on their Greek FLOSS success story.

Ayatana Indicators

In the near future various upstream projects related to the Ubuntu desktop experience as we have known it so far may become only sporadically maintained or even fully unmaintained. Ubuntu will switch to the Gnome desktop environment with 18.04 LTS as its default desktop, maybe even earlier. The Application Indicators [1] brought into being by Canonical Ltd. will not be needed in Gnome (AFAIK) any more. We can expect the Application Indicator related projects become unmaintained upstream. (In fact I have recently been offered continuation of upstream maintenance of libdbusmenu).

Historical Background

This all started at Ubuntu Developer Summit 2012 when Canonical Ltd. announced Ubuntu to become the successor of Windows XP in business offices. The Unity Greeter received an Remote Login Service enhancement: since then it supports Remote Login to Windows Terminal Servers. The question came up, why Remote Login to Linux servers--maybe even Ubuntu machines--is not on the agenda. It turned out, that it wasn't even a discussable topic. At that time, I started looking into the Unity Greeter code, adding support for X2Go Logon into Unity Greeter. I never really stopped looking at the greeter code from time to time.

Since then, it turned into some sort of a hobby... While looking into the Unity Greeter code over the past years and actually forking Unity Greeter as Arctica Greeter [2] in September 2015, I also started looking into the Application Indicators concept just recently.

[Arctica Project] Release of nx-libs (version


NX is a software suite which implements very efficient compression of the X11 protocol. This increases performance when using X applications over a network, especially a slow one.

NX (v3) has been originally developed by NoMachine and has been Free Software ever since. Since NoMachine obsoleted NX (v3) some time back in 2013/2014, the maintenance has been continued by a versatile group of developers. The work on NX (v3) is being continued under the project name "nx-libs".

Release Announcement

On Friday, May 5th 2017, version of nx-libs has been released [1].


A special thanks goes to Ulrich Sibiller for tracking down a regression bug that caused a tremendously slowed down keyboard input on high latency connections. Thanks for that!

Another thanks goes to the Debian project for indirectly providing us with so many build platforms. We are nearly at the point where nx-libs builds on all architectures supported by the Debian project. (Runtime stability is a completely different issue, we will get to this soon).

Changes between and

  • Include Debian patches, re-introducing GNU/Hurd and GNU/kFreeBSD support. Thanks to various porters on #debian-ports and #debian-hurd for feedback (esp.

Joining "The Club" Tomorrow

After having waited for about four months, I received an official mail from office (at) today, containing my personal chaos number and initial membership payment information and all...

              \o/    .oO( Yipppieehhh )

Money has immediately been transfered, so club joining should be complete by tomorrow.

Blogged by a highly delighted...
... sunweaver

Making Debian experimental's X2Go Server Packages available on Ubuntu, Mint and alike

Often I get asked: How can I test the latest nx-libs packages [1] with a stable version of X2Go Server [2] on non-Debian, but Debian-like systems (e.g. Ubuntu, Mint, etc.)?

This is quite easy, if you are not scared of building binary Debian packages from Debian source packages. Until X2Go Server (and NXv3) will be made available in Debian unstable, the brave testers should follow the below installation recipe.

Step 1: Add Debian experimental as Source Package Source

Add Debian experimental as source package provider (and immediately install the Debian Archive Keyring package):

$ echo "deb-src experimental main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/debian-experimental.list
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install debian-archive-keyring
$ sudo apt-get update

Step 2: Obtain Build Tools and Build Dependencies

When building software, you need to have some extra packages. Those packages will not be needed at runtime of the built piece of software, so you may want to take some notes on what extra packages get installed with the below step. If you plan rebuilding X2Go Server and NXv3 several times, then simply leave the build dependencies installed:

$ sudo apt-get build-dep nx-libs
$ sudo apt-get build-dep x2goserver

Step 3: Build NXv3 and X2Go Server from Source

Building NXv3 (aka nx-libs) takes a while, so it may be time to get some coffee now... The build process should not run as superuser root.

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