Nightly builds for Arctica Project (Debian / Ubuntu)

I am happy to announce that The Arctica Project can now provide automatic nightly builds of its developers' coding code work.

Packages are built automatically via Jenkins, see [1] for an overview of the current build queues. The Jenkins system builds code as found on our CGit mirror site [2].

NOTE: The Arctica Project's nightly builds may especially be interesting to people that want to try out the latest development steps on nx-libs (3.6.x branch) as we provide nx-libs 3.6.x binary preview builds.

Currently, we only build our code against Debian and Ubuntu (amd64, i386), more distros and platforms are likely to be added. If people can provide machine power (esp. non-Intel based architectures), please get in touch with us on Freenode IRC (channel: #arctica).

This is how you can add our package repositories to your APT system.

Debian APT (here: stretch)

Please note that we only support recent Debian versions (currently version 7.x and above).

$ echo 'deb stretch main' | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/arctica.list
$ sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver 0x98DE3101
$ sudo apt-get update

Ubuntu APT (here: trusty)

Please note that we support recent Ubuntu LTS versions only (Ubuntu 14.04 only at the moment).

$ echo 'deb trusty main' | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/arctica.list
$ sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver 0x98DE3101
$ sudo apt-get update

MATE 1.10 has fully arrived in Debian unstable

Yesterday, I uploaded the last missing piece for fully having MATE Desktop Environment 1.10 in Debian unstable and soon in Debian stretch and Ubuntu 15.10.

Providing MATE in Debian is, in the first place, a team effort. People from four Linux distributions plus the developers from upstream work on providing the MATE experience to the users of Debian.

There are many people to thank. This time I will only mention two of them. Two guys that have worked really hard on the MATE 1.10 release in Debian: Martin Wimpress (from the Ubuntu MATE team, aka flexiondotorg) and Vlad Orlov (from MATE upstream, aka monsta).

May the MATE Desktop Environment be of use to all of you...

Mike (aka sunweaver)

New plugin for GOsa²: gosa-plugin-mailaddress

During last week, I hacked a new plugin together for GOsa².

Simply quoting parts from debian/control here to inform you on its functionality:

Package: gosa-plugin-mailaddress
Architecture: all
 gosa (>= 2.7),
Description: Simple plugin to manage user mail addresses in GOsa²
 This plugin is a very light-weighted version of the GOsa² mail plugin.
 Whereas gosa-plugin-mail can be used to manage a complete mail server
 farm, this tiny plugin only provides means to modify the user's mail
 address via a text field.
 This plugin is useful for people that need to maintain users' email
 addresses via GOsa², but do not run their own mailserver(s).
 GOsa² is a combination of system-administrator and end-user web
 interface, designed to handle LDAP based setups.

Mike (aka sunweaver)

My FLOSS activities in July 2015

July 2015 has been mainly dedicated to these five fields of endeavour:

  • Debian Edu rollout at a grammar school (Gymnasium) in Lübeck, Germany
  • GOsa² and Debian Edu testing and fixing
  • Upgrading a Debian Edu squeeze main server to jessie
  • Packaging started to get ILIAS into Debian
  • Work on Debian and Debian LTS

Debian Edu rollout at a grammar school (Gymnasium) in Lübeck, Germany

In spring 2015, we got contacted by the IT coordinator of a grammar school (Gymnasium) in Lübeck, Germany. He asked for some consultancy on the existing school network based on Debian and Linux Mint. The school has been running on Linux all-over for the past 5 years (at least, IIRC).

After several phone calls and a personal meeting, the decision was reached to switch over the educational segment of their school IT completely to Debian Edu / Skolelinux.

GOsa² and Debian Edu testing and fixing

This new customer gave us the opportunity of intensively testing Debian Edu jessie. Diverting from previous rollouts, we dropped LibVirt as virtualization technology and switched over to Ganeti. The Debian Edu machines all run in KVM virtual machines.

Our Diskless Workstations and diskfull workstations have been running on Debian Edu jessie plus MATE desktop environment for a while already. But the main servers at other customers' are still on Debian Edu squeeze.

My FLOSS activities in June 2015

June 2015 has been mainly dedicated to these five fields of endeavour:

  • first uploads of MATE 1.10 to Debian experimental (still work in progress)
  • development of nx-libs (3.6.x branch)
  • meeting other nx-libs developers at X2Go: The Gathering 2015 at Linuxhotel in Essen, Germany
  • contribution to Debian and Debian LTS,
  • production deployment of Ganeti and Ganeti Manager (a web frontend for Ganeti)

Received Sponsorship

Last month's contributions of mine (8h) to the Debian LTS project had been contracted by Freexian [1] again. Thanks to Raphael Hertzog for having me on the team. Thanks to all the people and companies sponsoring the Debian LTS Team's work.

Also a big thanks to people from Hetzner GmbH for sponsoring my stay at X2Go: The Gathering 2015 @ Linuxhotel (in Essen, Germany).

MATE 1.10 entering Debian experimental

Together with Martin Wimpress from Ubuntu MATE and other people in the Debian MATE Packaging Team I managed to upload a great portion of the MATE 1.10 packages to Debian experimental.

Please note that this is still work in progress. Not all MATE 1.10 packages have been uploaded yet and several packages from the MATE 1.10 series in Debian have grave bugs still (mostly packaging and installation issues).

The plan is to make the complete MATE 1.10 stack available in Debian experimental by the end of July and also get all the open kinks fixed by then.

Development nx-libs 3.6.x

In June 2015, I have looked at various aspects of nx-libs development:

My FLOSS activities in May 2015

May 2015 has been mainly dedicated to these three fields of endeavour:

  • development of nx-libs (3.6.x branch), license clarification of nxcomp (a library in nx-libs)
  • contribution to Debian LTS, Debian packaging
  • test deployment of Ganeti and Ganeti Manager (a web frontend for Ganeti)

Received Sponsorship

I am happy to report that I received a personal sponsoring over 3.000,- EUR from a sponsor not to be named in May 2015. The sponsoring has been dedicated to supporting my work on The Arctica Project.

Last month's contributions of mine (8h) to the Debian LTS project had been contracted by Freexian [1] again. Thanks to Raphael Hertzog for having me on the team. Thanks to all the people and companies sponsoring the Debian LTS Team's work.

Development and License of nx-libs 3.6.x

What has been achieved in May 2015 concerning the nx-libs development?

  • nx-libs(-lite) continues to stay DFSG-compliant (see [2] for details)
  • Ulrich Sibiller has started working on enabling the RandR based Xinerama extension protocol in nxagent (the prototypes already work quite well) [3]. His work will make it possible to:
    • drop libNX_Xinerama from nx-X11,
    • drop the need of xinerama.conf file that needs to be updated from the client side of the session whenever a RandR change occurs on the client side
    • drop some nasty LD_LIBRARY_PATH hack from x2goruncommand (in X2Go)

DXPC retroactively re-licensed as BSD-2-clause, nx-libs(-lite) now really DFSG-compliant

We recently had an intensive phase while reconsidering the DFSG-compliancy of the nx-libs(-lite) code base.

TL;DR; In May 2015, all versions of DXPC released before version 3.8.1 (sometime in 2002) have retroactively been re-licensed by all previous maintainers of DXPC as BSD-2-clause.

This blog arcticle is a modified version of the nxcomp/README.on-retroactive-DXPC-license file [1] and gives an overview of the discussion thread that lead to the retroactive re-licensing of DXPC.

For the full discussion, see doc/DXPC_re-licensed::debbug_784565.mbox [2] in the nx-libs source project or #784565 on the Debian bug tracker [3].




In May 2015, a serious license issue around the nxcomp code shipped in this source project was raised and solved on the Debian bug tracker (thanks to Francesco Poli and many others):

From: "Francesco Poli \(wintermute\)" 
To: Debian Bug Tracking System 
Date: Wed, 06 May 2015 19:35:32 +0200

I noticed that the debian/copyright states:

| Parts of this software are derived from DXPC project. These copyright
| notices apply to original DXPC code:

Rebasing NXv3 against latest X.Org -- already ~2,700,000 lines of code removed

We have set sails for a great endeavour. We are cleaning up the nx-X11 / nxagent code tree [1] and rebase it against latest / recent X.Org. Until now, we have been able to drop ~2,700,000 lines of code [2] from the source tree that originally got released by NoMachine.

The plan is...

  • to make NXv3 usable with recent desktop environments (work needed on nxagent's randr proto, composite proto, GL, probably more),
  • facilitate multimedia content over NX via the Telekinesis framework (originally developped for X2Go),
  • make X11 events inside nxagent accessible for third party applications
  • and facilitate NX traffic via unix domain sockets.

For more details, see the[3] file on our Github project.

What we have achieved so far...

  • We have only one(!) bundled library left (nx-X11/extras/Mesa--yeah, getting rid of this hunk will be quite an issue, indeed).
  • We are continuously dropping bundled X11 libraries (already dropped:, libNX_Xfont.a,, pending: libNX_Xinerama, libNX_Xrandr, libNX_Xdamage).
  • We have had three major commits that dropped many many lines of completely unneeded imake build logic.

My FLOSS activities in April 2015

April 2015 has been my first month on the Debian LTS team (as a paid contractor working underneath the Freexian [1] umbrella). Working in the team of paid Debian LTS developers requires to write a monthly summary about sponsored work on Debian LTS. Thanks to Raphael Hertzog for having me on his company's team and providing the framework for providing paid work on Debian LTS.

I will use this requirement for a monthly report as a starting point for documenting my FLOSS activities on a monthly basis via my blog (not only for Debian LTS, but also for other projects).

Work on Debian LTS

For the Debian LTS team I have been doing 8h of contracted work in April 2015 (and at the beginning of May 2015). The work focused on:

  • understanding / questioning details on the Debian LTS workflow
  • fixing several issues in xdg-utils for Debian squeeze-lts [2]
  • fixing two CVE issues in the xorg-server package (in two consecutive uploads) [3,4]
  • working on regression documentation

Several more hours have been spent by myself (and also Raphael) for getting me started in the team. Thanks for your patience.

Work on Debian jessie

The Debian MATE Packaging team was able to provide several fixes last-minute before the Debian jessie release (mate-control-center[5], caja-extensions[6], mate-desktop [7]). Thanks to the release team for processing the last-minute unblock requests so smoothly.

Arctica Project - New Remote (Desktop) Computing Project

This is to announce a new upcoming FLOSS project addressing the remote (desktop) computing realm in the GNU/Linux (and possibly other *nices) server world.

The new project's name will be The Arctica Project [1, 2].

In the Arctica Project, 5-6 developers from all over the world have come together to revisit the field of remote (desktop) computing and write a remote computing framework from scratch.

At the moment, there are not many solutions around that (a) are 100% Free Software, (b) work acceptable for most users and (c) also address large scale deployments and enterprise grade customers. To be honest, IMHO there is actually no such solution at all.

The Arctica Project attempts at changing this sustainably; and we are starting with it NOW.

If anyone reads this and gets curious, please join us on IRC and get in touch! If you feel like a potential contributor, we happily invite you to become one. We are open to your input. Please share it. (Thanks!)


[2] IRC channel #arctica on Freenode

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