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.



My FLOSS activities in August/September 2015

Here comes my "monthly" FLOSS report for August and September 2015. As 50% of August 2015 had been dedicated to taking some time off (spending time in Sweden with the family), it happened that even more workload had to be processed in September 2015.

  • Completion of MATE 1.10 in Debian testing/unstable and Ubuntu 15.10
  • Contribution to Debian LTS, Debian packaging
  • Development of GOsa² Plugin SchoolManager
  • Automatic builds for Arctica Project
  • Forking Unity Greeter as Arctica Greeter (with focus on the remote logon part inside Unity Greeter)

Received Sponsorship

My monthly 8h portion of working for the Debian LTS project I had to dispatch from August into September. Thus, I received 16h of paid work for working on Debian LTS in September 2015. For details, see below. Thanks to Raphael Hertzog for having me on the team [1]. Thanks to all the people and companies sponsoring the Debian LTS Team's work.

The development of GOsa² Plugin SchoolManager (for details, see below) was done on contract for a school in Nothern Germany. The code will be released under the same license as the GOsa² software itself.

Completion of MATE 1.10 in Debian testing/unstable and Ubuntu 15.10

In the first half of September all MATE 1.10 packages finally landed in Debian testing (aka stretch). Martin Wimpress handled most of the packaging changes, whereas my main job was being reviewer and uploader of his efforts. Thanks to John Paul Adrian Glaubitz for jumping in as reviewer and uploader during my vacation time.

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)

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