My FLOSS activities in December 2015

December 2015 was a month mainly dedicated to work for local contractors (local schools mainly) and my employer (University of Kiel, Git server migration).

At the end of the month I had the privilege of attending the 32c3 ([1]) where we had a little sprint for the Arctica Project. Thanks to my family and esp. to my wonderful wife for letting me attend this always fascinating event at the end of each year.

Horde Hacking

One of my local customers is really interested in using a non-gated-community mail provider, so he asked me to host his company's mail addresses on my mail company's server. Something I regularly don't offer (anymore) except for dear friends and very patient customers.

This customer sponsored several more work hours on hacking on the Kolab_Storage code in Horde and proposing bug fixes upstream [2,3,4,5,6,7,8]. Thanks for supporting my work on the Horde Groupware Framework. Thanks to Horde upstream maintainers (esp. Michael Rubinsky) for reacting on my bug submissions so promptly.

Debian and Debian LTS

Locally, I did a lot of work for our Debian Edu / Skolelinux customers again this months.

MATE 1.12 landed in Debian unstable

Yesterday, I did a bundle upload of all MATE 1.12 related packages to Debian unstable. Packages are currently building for the 22 architectures supported by Debian, build status can be viewed on the DDPO page of the Debian MATE Packaging Team [1]

Again a big thanks to the packaging team. Martin Wimpress amongst others did a fabulous job in bumping all packages towards the 1.12 release series before the Christmas holidays. Over the holidays, I was able to review his work (99% perfect) and upload all binary packages to a staging repository.

@Martin Wimpress: It is really time that we make a DM (Debian Maintainer) out of you!!!

After testing all MATE 1.12 packages on a Debian unstable system, I decided to do a bundle upload yesterday.

Lessons learned about bundling Debian uploads

It absolutely makes sense to hold back package uploads of a project like the MATE desktop until all relevant packages are reviewed, pre-built and tested.

When releasing MATE packages via the team's packaging Git [2], there are normally two actions to be taken on a package release:

  • commit "upload to unstable (debian/<pkg-version>)
  • tag that commit with "Debian release <pkg-version>

When reviewing so many Git projects, it is always problematic that people commit something else during the review phase. Especially, if the review work involves many packages (i.e., Git packaging repos) and requires several days or even weeks to get finished.

NEW: Arctica Project Mailing Lists

During our development sprint at 32c3 [1] and remote, we managed to get our--long awaited--mailing list server online:

Happy subscribing to those who are interested in remote desktop computing on Linux.

Disclaimer: Please note that the Arctica Project is still in its infancy and we hope to have first releases during the upcoming year. Also we actively and intensively continue maintenance of what was formerly known as NX (version 3) [2].


[1] (traditionally down during the event)

Jolla has received financing to continue the development of Sailfish OS

The force re-awakens. Jolla has received financing to continue the development of Sailfish OS.

For futher reading, see...

People, please consider switching over to the Jolla phone and (hopefully) to the upcoming Jolla tablet.

Stop using gated community [1] products [2,3]. The efforts done by Jolla on non-gated mobiled hardware is essential and should be supported by buying those products (i.e., help generating revenue). Providing Jolla with financial support can be one means of helping open-sourcing the Sailfish OS UIX developed by Jolla.

I wish everyone reading this a good transition into 2016 and a fine 'Twelfth Night' (German: Rauhnächte) period.

light+love from 32c3 [4]


First impressions of my new Jolla Smartphone

"It" has arrived [1]. Finally...

Summary first...

In a nutshell: Support Jolla, support the Mer Project, support the development of Sailfish OS!!! If you are brave enough, even get a Jolla device yourself and find out what it's like.

Impressions then...

First impression... Go and get one yourself. Jolla smartphones are awesome.

Second impression... Wow, there are some bugs here and there that require being fixed. Dropping the idea of giving away Jolla phones for X-mas to family members for now...

Third impression... The Jolla Oy company currently goes through some sort of a death valley [2] that startups regularly face. Let's keep fingers crossed that the company survives. Well, then...

Fourth impression... The hosting location of the source code of the free parts of the SailfishOS is not always evident. I am still investigating this... Especially software offered via does not always come with a reference to the source code of provided binary blobs.

Overall impression... If you are a nerd or brave enough otherwise, go and get one!!! Especially if your N900 gradually starts falling apart. Personally, my impression is that the Jolla smartphone is the best of an "up-to-date" Free Software phone, we can get at the moment.

My FLOSS activities in November 2015

November 2015 was a month where I could not work on much FLOSS, unfortunately. Due to family members and myself being ill, things got stalled and delayed. Local customer projects always receive prioritized attention in such phases.

Ayatana Indicators

As already posted in a separate article [1], I spent quite some time on studying the architectural design of Ayatana/Ubuntu Application Indicators. For the pure purpose of studying I forked various code projects around Indicators and tested them on Debian unstable. Unfortunately, I did not come to a point where things really started working at runtime. Git projects of the various Ayatana Indicators compenents can be found on Github [2].

Debian and Debian LTS

For Debian LTS, I had to dispatch several of the open hours to other team members, because things got delayed here. I spent 6.5h on backporting a patch for CVE-2015-1335 [3] to lxc 0.7.x (as found in Debian squeeze and Ubuntu 12.04) [4]. This is still work in progress and I hope for a solution before X-mas.

Locally, I did a lot of work for our Debian Edu / Skolelinux customers, but there has not been much to contribute back to the FLOSS realm, so far.

My FLOSS activities in October 2015

October 2015 has been mainly dedicated to contracted/payed work. Only a few issues I could address during the last month:

  • Fix FTBFS of Arctica Greeter on non-Ubuntu systems
  • Co-working on renewed Xinerama support in nx-libs
  • Development of GOsa² Password Management Add-on
  • Improving Debian Edu main server upgrade documentation (from Debian Edu squeeze to Debian Edu jessie)
  • Fixing my personal Horde Groupware installation for access via mobile devices
  • Learning Dovecot et al.

Arctica Project

While having a week off from work, I managed to get Arctica Greeter to build on non-Ubuntu systems. The issue was very simple. The build crashed during the test suite run and it was caused by the XDG_DATA_DIRS variable not being set in my clean build environment. Furthermore, I added various more session type icons to Arctica Greeter (XFCE, LXDE, MATE, OpenBox, TWM, Default X11 Session, etc.) and also rebased the Arctica Greeter code base against all recent commits found in Unity Greeter for Ubuntu 15.10 / upcoming 16.04.

Together with Ulrich Sibiller, I continued our work on the new Xinerama implementation for the remote X11 server nxagent (used as x2goagent in X2Go). However, this is unfortunately still work in progress, because various theoretical monitor layout issues became evident that require being handled in the new code before it can get merged into nx-libs's current 3.6.x branch.

Also, I managed to do some little work on, the still too rudimentary project homepage.

Making appindicators available for non-Ubuntu platforms

As many (Debianic) people possibly know, the appindicator support (libindicator, libappindicator, etc.) in Debian is very weak and outdated. Various native indicators (e.g. indicator-* packages , where * is "datetime", "sound", "session", etc.) are missing or unmaintained in Debian and neither is the indicator-application service available (a service that allows other applications e.g., like the nm-applet tool to dock to the indicator area of the desktop's panel bar). Furthermore, no recent appindicator related uploads have been seen in Debian (last seen uploads are from 2013).

I recently e-mailed with Andrew Starr-Bochicchio, one of the Ayatana Packaging team members, about the current Debian status of indicator packages specifically and Ayatana packages [1] in general. The below information summarizes (I hope) what I got from the mail exchange:

Do Jolla Smartphones really exist?

Having ordered a Jolla smartphone in the last week of September 2015, I already accepted by now that possibly Jolla smartphones don't really exist.

But today (finally!) after six weeks of acceptance... / waiting... I received a mail with the below subject:

    Subject: Jolla Shop: Shipping confirmation for order #500010511

Maybe Jolla smartphones do really exist... Let's see if that phone will be a venerable successor for my beloved N900.

\o/ .oO ( Hurray ! )
I will keep you posted, so stay tuned...


New plugin for GOsa: gosa-plugin-pwreset

For a school customer here in Nothern Germany, I developed another GOsa Add-On this week, the Add-On's name is: Password Management Add-On for GOsa (gosa-plugin-pwreset).

This password management and reset tool allows one to administratively mass-reset user passwords in GOsa based on various approaches.

  1. A CSV file can be uploaded containing user IDs and new passwords. The CSV file format for this is: comma-separated, no quotes, two columns (<uid>, <userPassword>).
  2. An organizational unit of the LDAP tree can be selected and for all user accounts in that section of the LDAP tree (i.e., the selected OU and all sub-OUs), new passwords can be set. The passwords will get auto-generated when using this approach.
  3. Other approach needed? Please get in touch and provide me with a description of your potential use case.

Before passwords are actually changed, the site admin has various options:

  • Passwords can be adapted on screen (also the auto-generated passwords).
  • Password changes for individual users can be skipped by unticking the user's "Really?" checkbox.
  • Expect more features to come...

The source code of this new GOsa Add-On is available on Github [1] and has also been uploaded to Debian's NEW queue already.



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