Arduino Controlled Ambient Light Chameleon | Blathering

One of the greatest things about the information age is being able to see the seemingly endless creativity of the world’s makers, programmers and artists. Even cooler is when these different passions and disciplines come together to create something truly fun and exciting. There are countless examples of those and I should probably feature more but this one hit with electric joy on many angles.

Since I am quite the fan of the openSUSE project, anything to do with Chameleons tends to stoke that childlike enthusiasm on a Christmas morning. Since this is not only a Chameleon but one that has LEDs inside controlled with an Arduino turns that enthusiasm up to 11.

This is not a terribly complex project if you have the fairly basic understanding of electronics and 3D printing, this could be accomplished in a day or so, depending on the speed of your 3D printer. Check out the full article on Instructables.com. If you own or have access to a 3D printer, none of this is particularly expensive but would give many hours of smiles sitting adjacent your couch, monitor or as a centerpiece on your dining room table.

Click on this for details about this smile:

https://www.instructables.com/The-Chameleon/

Parts List

In case you are interested and haven’t quite clicked on that link yet, this is what you will need. There are a few pricy items, like the SK6812 RGBW LEDs, but you can use other cheaper variants. The wires, power switch and push button could be from stock you already have. You might even have the fiber optic cable and craft board. My guess is, if you are strict minimalist, you may not have any of this.

  • Arduino Nano V3.0
  • SK6812 RGBW LEDs (not cheap but you don’t need many)
  • Push Button.
  • Switch to control the power
  • 5V 18650 Lithium Battery Boost Step Up Module Charger.
  • 18650 Rechargeable Battery NCR18650B.
  • 3mm Fiber optic cable.
  • 3M 6mm + 6mm Hexagonal Spacers. 3M Nuts. 3M Screws.
  • Rubber stops.
  • Wires.
  • 3D Printed parts: Two halves of the chameleon. Fiber optic cable Coupling.
  • 2D Cut parts: Interior Chameleon(2mm Acrylic Board). Base Box (3mm MDF Board). Grass (2mm Kraft Foam).

This is a great time in history to be a technology enthusiast. There are so many fun things one can do to express their creativity and passions to spread a little happiness around. We should all make it a priority to spread smiles as much as possible. Life is short, after all.

References

https://opensuse.org
https://www.instructables.com/The-Chameleon/

openSUSE Stickers to Enhance your Tech

I have not been one that has been real huge on stickers. Historically, I have not been one to sticker anything up, I have enjoyed keeping things plain, ordinary and uniform or incognito. With my recent computer acquisition, the very nice, sleep albeit cold HP EliteBook felt very impersonal. I felt, it needed a touch of green, a touch of happiness and maybe a little less of the cold and detached presentation it provides. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for that, just not today on this machine.

I did a little searching on the webs and I found a site that provides many, many options for stickers. That company is called RedBubble. What is interesting about this site is that it is like an Etsy of stickers and merchandise. If you do a search for openSUSE or Ubuntu, you will get different products by different designers. I do not know the business model here but I am very fascinated by having these options available.

Since I have an almost unhealthy obsession with openSUSE, I had to take my rather plain and uninspiring, cold, metal machine into something with a bit of warmth.

I even bought a little something for the inside of the laptop too. You don’t always get the pleasure of seeing the logo on the menu button when you are playing a game at full screen. Sometimes, it is nice to look down and bring that smile back to your face after some 12 year old gamer crushes you on a first person shooter and laughs at you for being an old man with terrible reflexes sprinkled with some other colorful language and riddled with slang you don’t understand.

Quality

The sticker material itself is of good quality. It is not flimsy nor will it easily tear. These are of quality vinyl, the type that is removable. Although, I can’t verify the durability of them, they are claimed to be water proof.

So, I guess I’ll find out how they hold up over time. I figure, as long as they hold up for a few years, I will most certainly have my value out of them.

Material appears to be of good quality.

Just by tugging on the material, it appears to be tough, as far as stickers go. I do like that these are vinyl and will remove without leaving residue, or at least, too much residue. It will be interesting to see if the sticker I put by my palm rest starts to peel up on the edges or fades out due to wear.

Final Thoughts

Though I have never been a big sticker / customize your computer kind of guy, I really do like these stickers. They express more than just the brand logo of the manufacturer as to where my priorities like with my technology. Also, since I did put this on a business class machine, there is very little likelihood that it would be confused with anyone else’s corporate machine, should I find myself in such an environment again.

I do believe my tone has changed on the notion of making your personal computer a bit more personalized. I am not going to go sticker crazy but a few stickers that express my almost unhealthy obsession with the openSUSE project is just right for my laptop and other computers.

References

https://www.redbubble.com/
http://opensuse.org
HP EliteBook 840 G7 running openSUSE Tumbleweed

Christmastime in the year 2020 | Holiday Blathering

What can I say about 2020 that someone else hasn’t already said? I can say it has been… a bit of a disappointment. Nothing has really gone to plan, it seems. I would say, tho, 2020 started out pretty great. Things were looking good for most people and evens occurred that really took the shine off of the year, to put it mildly. I don’t want to focus on the negative, I am going to focus on the positive things.

For starters, I and my family still have their health. We all recovered from whatever sickness was thrown at us this year and I call that a blessing. I may have lost my job this year, but I haven’t stopped working, I just happen to be working with my hands more and subject to the whims of Mother Nature as of late. As part of my layoff package, I got a new computer which has been fantastic and has made my ability to work mobile much more enjoyable.

There have been a lot of great developments in the open source world, it seems like software packages rolling down on openSUSE Tumbleweed have just been rock-solid. KDE Plasma 5.20 has been an incredible joy to have on all my machines. If you have a touch screen, the interface controls are top-notch. I learned of a replacement shell called FISH which may very well be the neatest terminal based tool I have ever used. I am truly thankful for all the hard work put in by so many people to make life on the computer more enjoyable and productive.

I have been able to continue to enjoy my time with the Destination Linux Network where I can make a positive contribution to the community on a regular basis. I have been able to meet some incredible people with such incredible knowledge and seemingly endless patience. I have been able to learn so many new and interesting things because of the interactions and I am forever grateful.

I have been afforded the opportunity to create new Christmas Light Shows on my expanded house display. It’s been fun and frustrating. It has also been incredibly educational and has exposed my cavernous knowledge gaps. Learning and making mistakes is something that helps us to grow individually. I may not be happy about the forced self-education but I end up better for it.

I have began my journey in learning Python which has also been a challenge. I have nothing to show for it, yet but that will come, hopefully fairly soon as works lows down due to the weather change. Which, makes me think. I am not working much in a cubicle these days, unless I am able to count my “SuperCubicle” in my home as one.

Most importantly, for the first time in many years, there is peace in my life as it relates to family. Something to always be grateful for is peace. No, things are in no way perfect but they are far better now than they were a year ago. I would like to count that as a victory.

The year isn’t done and we are still in the throes of adversity with all that is going on but we are also in the midst of Christmastime. A period were with think and hopefully act a bit more on good will and kindness to our fellow humans, no matter the “poo-sandwich” we have had to choke down. c

In an effort to celebrate, what should be a time of joyous family gatherings, I created a 2020 version of Christmas musical lighting sequences with my home’s Linux Powered festive lights. I had numerous headaches with expanding the system. What I thought would have been a straight forward add-on ended up being a painful event, banging my head against the wall at every stage. The positive is, I did add a large number of lights to my system and it is mostly stable but it certainly is a kind of “science experiment” and requires a lot of refinement at this point. Regardless, here are the three 2020 sequences I put together this year. I retooled two of my 2019, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, songs and a new song called “Frozen Memories” by CJ Simpson aka Perifractic. There was a fourth song I planned but ran out of time.

Final Thoughts

In the words of Doc Brown, “Your future is whatever you make of it, so make it a good one.” So is your life. Bad things will happen, adversity is a part of life. The question is, how are you responding to the stressors? Can you respond to them while keeping your dignity intact? It’s not easy and it takes work. 2020 has been a year of trials and incredible testing of ones resolve. Lets hope that 2021 will be better, but if it isn’t, let us all try to individually be better in 2021. Learn something new, be more compassionate, show more kindness. It won’t hurt!

References

HP EliteBook 840 G7 running openSUSE Tumbleweed
FISH | Friendly Interactive SHell on openSUSE
CubicleNate YouTube Christmas Light Sequences
“Frozen Memories” by CJ Simpson aka Perifractic
Another Christmastime Blathering | Linux Powered Lighting

Rickroll in the Terminal

This is a mostly useless blathering but since I got a good laugh out of it, I wanted to index this bit of fun and share it because that is what you do, right? Share nonsense on the Internet? Isn’t that why they invented the thing?

I was watching “Adrian’s Digital Basement” on YouTube and caught site of a device that had a repeating Rickroll animation. At first, I couldn’t remember what it was called and nearly hurt my thinking muscle in trying to remember it. After a bit of searching, I found a YouTube video of the actual music video of the “RickRoll”. So then I thought, I wonder if someone made this to run in the terminal. Sure enough, that is a thing.

I found this GitHub page here:

https://github.com/keroserene/rickrollrc/

I was incredibly amused.

Here is my warning and disclaimer, don’t ever copy some random text from the internet into a terminal and just run it. That is not in any way a good idea. Since I do lots of things that aren’t good ideas, I have done this and from what I can tell, it hasn’t destroyed my system.

To view a pixelated Rickroll in the terminal run this command:

curl -s -L https://raw.githubusercontent.com/keroserene/rickrollrc/master/roll.sh | bash

If you would like to share this with a friend and don’t want to give away what it is and surreptitiously get this person to run it in there terminal, use this command:

curl -s -L http://bit.ly/10hA8iC | bash

The obfuscation of the URL will aid in the process of “Rickrolling” your buddy… in the terminal.

As the GitHub site suggests, you could turn it into a script and further hide your true intentions when helping someone else out. Oh the fun that could be hand by wearing out a joke that was never that funny to begin with.

Final Thoughts

I totally realize that the “funny” of the Rickroll has long since passed on but this still gives me a chuckle and someday, someday, you can use it again on an unsuspecting technological enthusiast. I can think of all kinds of ways to shoe horn it in to the next time I give someone some advice.

References

Adrian’s Digital Basement YouTube Video with Rickroll in the background
Rickroll in it’s full Standard Definition Glory
Rickrollrc on GitHub

CubicleNate now on LBRY | Blathering

For the half dozen or so of people that might manage to care, I have decided to start synchronizing my piddly YouTube content over to LBRY. I’d say this is nothing against YouTube but actually, it is. Although I will still use and enjoy YouTube, many of their decisions have shaken my confidence in their ability to be a truly open platform, therefore, I am following the lead of many other “content creators” and also putting my stuff on LBRY.

LBRY is a decentralized video platform that uses blockchain (that cryptocurrency magic) to distribute the video content. That said, I don’t really understand or frankly care how it works, but I do wonder if some videos will eventually get lost in the ether due to this decentralized nature.

Bottom Line Up front: I am not expecting much to come from it and since most of the people I personally enjoy are on YouTube. I am starting to use LBRY a bit, from time to time, because, why not. It’s something somewhat new and shiny and I want to see some sort of competitor to rise up and challenge the top dog.

Sync from YouTube to LBRY

Not that I have much to manually copy over, but the fact that there is a process to synchronize your content over, this was the way I would start. The process is very straight forward. Once you have an account set up with LBRY, you have to “claim your channel” on it. This is done by navigating to https://lbry.com/youtube

Then, just follow the directions. You will essentially log into your Google account and like an addon, have LBRY connect with your YouTube things. The synchronization process takes a while, as in, a few days. Once the content is on LBRY, you will have to claim the channel. Truthfully, this part scares me a bit, is it possible for someone else to claim your channel? No idea. Regardless, I claimed it without any issues and now my stuff is there.

CubicleNate LBRY Channel

I did find a rather well put together video on YouTube (ironically) for this process. It was about the same for me if you would like to watch that.

What I Like

Using LBRY is not any different than YouTube, really. At least, from my very non-power user look at it. I just want to look up Linxy things or other nerdy content and I seem to be able to find some very interesting things there.

It’s another platform, I don’t have to do any additional work to mirror my content. Now, I don’t have much content but I am working on that. I also want to have more than one place to store it. YouTube, for the time being is my primary but it’s nice to have a back up.

I like that it is decentralized so that there is a bit more user freedom in this. The idea of federation of systems, seems like the future of services. Give the end user a bit more control as opposed to some unknown, faceless authority.

I like that you get LBC “rewards” for watching content. What does it really mean? Supposedly you can cash it out. Like all crypto currency, it fluctuates in value so I am not sure it is really worth that much either. There is this feature where you can “tip” creators with the funny-money as well. I kind of like that idea. Though, I don’t see any advertising so I don’t know how the funds are generated.

What I Don’t Like

The analytics aren’t quite as interesting as what you are given on YouTube. Perhaps it is by nature due to the decentralized system. I couldn’t say for sure. Either way, not as entertaining for me.

The LBRY application client just doesn’t seem to run for me. I keep getting this Daemon has exited error and I have yet to find the solution for it. I have tried the Flatpak and AppImages but I get the same result. I have searched a bit for this and I am wondering if my firewall is stopping it from working. Not the computer’s firewall I have tested it and get the same result. I am wondering if it is the main edge device / firewall. I should probably check before publishing this but that would require extra work and this is just a blatheirng.

Final Thoughts

My video content is nothing impressive, my views are very minimal and I am okay with all of that. I do it all for fun and to share. My intent is to continue to share whatever it is with as many people as are interested. Some people do not want to use YouTube, so I have made an alternative.

I don’t really know how the whole things works. I don’t know if it will last and I don’t truly understand the business model. Regardless, I will use it and see how it grows or doesn’t grow and hope the best for this platform. It could be great or just another flash in the pan.

References

LBRY Home
LBRY CubicleNate Channel
LBRY Youtube Partner Program – How to Sync a Channel

Linux in the Kitchen | Life Enhancement Blathering

There are so many ways Linux can be used. Most commonly, we see it used to run the Internet in servers and cloud thingies and such. If you are a desktop user, you might use it for office tasks in your home or work, maybe you are a content creator and you do video or audio editing, maybe you game or do 3D design, such as in parametric modeling, such as using Fusion 360 on Linux. There is another place that Linux fits quite nicely, that place is your Kitchen. At this stage, I would, in no way, give up Linux in the kitchen or trade it for a poor substitute like ChromeOS (which I have before). General Purpose Linux, the real thing, belongs in the kitchen as much as a coffee pot microwave oven or a toaster. I am not talking shoe-horning it into the life-center of your home, it is a perfect fit.

It is almost an automatic fit with using Linux for “traditional productivity” but it is not often thought about in the kitchen. Linux is something that makes domestic life a bit easier. Here are a couple of ways Linux just makes my life a bit easier and makes you look like a renaissance man or woman. I personally don’t have natural talent in the kitchen but out of necessity, I have to perform these functions better, more efficiently with improvements in my measure of performance as well as my measure of effect. As in, my kids enjoy what I make.

I am going to break down the applications that I use in the Kitchen to help organize my life just a little bit better. I will admit, that I am a work in progress on this. I am continually tweaking this but I am at a point now where I feel like it is a satisfactory solution and not just a novelty. I am running this on openSUSE Tumbleweed but I can’t see why you couldn’t use any other distribution… like openSUSE Leap.

The Hardware

This was an important choice for me. To forgo the droning details of the unimpressive hardware specifications, you can view that here. In short, my minimum requirements was at least something that would take a forth generation (Socket LGA1150) CPU. What I have in there now is not great but it does the job. I wanted a touch screen system, it had to be an all-in-one and it had to have a VESA mount. Since my kitchen is rather small, it was absolutely vital to not lose any counter space.

This is one of those acquisitions that has been worth far more in time savings and convenience than what it has cost me. I also want to add that this particular system has rather underwhelming set of built in speakers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that they are but I have it connected via Bluetooth to a Coolvox that is part of my refrigerator. Those speakers are pretty great.

Time Management

Use Kontact module Korganizer to perform meal planning. There are many other calendar options out there so feel free to swap this out for something that is to your liking. Since I am a heavy Plasma user, I haven’t actually installed explicitly installed it as it has always been done for me.

sudo zypper install korganizer

Truthfully, if you aren’t using Plasma or LXQt, I don’t know how much I would recommend this particular application.

Evolution is an alternative that my interest you.

sudo zypper install evolution

or for Debian based distributions

sudo apt install evolution

With whatever calendaring system you use, KOrganizer or Evolution, the idea here is to plan out your days, weeks, or even month if you have that sort of inclination. I have a lot of moving parts going on in my life so it is imperative that I keep my kids’ school activities, appointments and such readily available. I also use this for meal planning and I am making a point this year specify blocks of time for those activities that fall through the cracks, like reading to my kids or even “game time” so that we are not always just focused on work.

There is almost a sense of excitement knowing that family game time is scheduled and the kids appreciate seeing this too. It is another way to keep them all onboard.

Recipe Management

Gnome Recipes for storing my various recipes. There are a few issues with the is application, but it is minor and the mitigation I use is to not use the designated ingredients listing as it will change the units to undesirable quantities.

sudo zypper install gnome-recipes

or for Debian based distributions

sudo apt install gnome-recipes

What would be great is if there was an easier way to exchange your recipes with an external repository, of some kind. There is a way to import and export recipes but I haven’t used that function. I synchronize my data around my network.

File Synchronization

Syncthing-GTK is what i use to synchronize my recipes database between the machines in my house so when I find a recipe I like, I can enter it on another machine that I may take to the dining room, my couch or my SuperCubicle

sudo zypper install syncthing-gtk

or…

sudo apt install syncthing-gtk

I synchronize the data between multiple machines and since it is a peer-to-peer system, it has high fault tolerance, as in, I don’t have a central point of failure. The kitchen computer, my main laptop and my main workstation/server share a large section of my data. The nice feature is, I can work on something and save it on my kitchen and it will very quickly be available on my other computes so I have a very seamless kind of integration. Whether I am knocking out a LibreOffice document or updating a recipe, I will have it ready for me to use at whatever workstation I use in my house.

Lists

For list, grocery lists, quick notes, I use SimpleNote. It is just as the name states, a simple note taking application I had previously used the Google Keep but Chrome keeps using up more and more resources so I have backed off from Google services. There are many other note taking applications but SimpleNote is what I use most often. I install the Snap package.

sudo snap install simplenote

There may be other sources for SimpleNote, but this is what I can count on to work in openSUSE. The last time I checked, there wasn’t a Flatpak and I am more than happy to use any packaging system in openSUSE, because they all work well. Other distribution experiences may vary.

What makes SimpleNotes special is the simplicity of it. It is just a note taking application that works simply and well. I have SimpleNote on my mobile device as well so when I go to the store, I have my list there and ready to go. Bonus, it has a dark mode too.

I use the checklist function so that I can check off the items from my list as I go. If I notice a deficiency or a pending deficiency, I can very quickly make a not of it on any computer, most often the kitchen computer and it is ready for me later.

Web browsing

Since the system I am using is an all in one touch screen, I like to use a touch friendly browser and currently, I am using the Falkon web browser.

sudo zypper install falkon

Since I don’t have all the recipes in my kitchen computer, I will often find new recipes and browse through them which is why it is important to have the easy touch to scroll that Falkon provides. I prefer Firefox in nearly every other application and I won’t use Chrome but for your Kitchen setup, you use what you want to use.

Final Thoughts

I have no metrics to tell you how much more efficient this set up is over using a more normal method, like having cook books and the like taking up cupboard space but what I can tell you is that there is a lot more satisfaction and enjoyment when I am in the kitchen. Not only can I be more productive but I am also more easily entertained as well.

References

Dell Inspiron 20 3048 All-in-One Details
Gnome-Recipes
Syncthing-GTK

Noodlings | Christmastime, xLights, Exploring Media Servers and Computer History

To squeeze one more blathering in before the end of the year, here are a few things I am noodling around currently.

The 10th Noodling arriving, not because anyone asked for it…

Christmastime Activities

Post Christmas Day shopping yielded me a really nice find, specifically something pretty fantastic from Lowe’s that allows me to fix my AC light strands. A Holiday Living Light Tester. The directions could have been a bit more clear… maybe worth a video… but I was able to recover three of my LED bush nets. Since they retail for about $10 each, that has made the purchase worth it already. This device is supposed to work with LED as well as incandescent lights. I’ve only tested it on LED thus far and it works well.

This is a device that I wish I had discovered long ago.

Christmas Lights Sequence to Music with xLights

Very comprehensive software that allows you to look at the wave forms, change playback speed and make it easier to adjust the actions to occur at the right time. I’ve only began to scratch the surface of the power and capability of this and the reality is, I don’t know what I don’t know on using this software. My set up is really quite simple, therefor I can’t take full advantage of its capabilities.

Some of my favorite effects to date are the butterfly, marquee, fireworks, life and fan. They currently give me the visual excitement for which I am looking to put into the sequences.

There are many more effects to discover but due to the limited nature of my display as it currently is, I can’t do some of the more fancy enhanced items, yet.

I recorded a two videos an posted them to YouTube, they are nothing terribly special, but I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

Funny aside, I went to record the second sequence and there was a car parked in front of my house, waiting to watch it.

I did decide to employ an FM transmitter so that people can listen to the music in their vehicle but I don’t actually have a sign to inform that fact.

More on the Christmastime Lights here

Exploring Media Servers

PLEX

The old boy on the block that is well known. I haven’t used or tried it yet but this is still the one I hear the most about. Because it is the popular one, I tend to go for other things… for reasons unknown

Jellyfin

This will be the next version I try. I have noticed that they do have a Docker image so I am going to take this as an opportunity to learn some things about docker while I’m at it. The key feature of this one is it is completely open source and that has a great appeal to me.

Emby

This is the media server with which I started this journey and am currently testing. I planned to test the others already but I have been engaged in other matters. It has decent name recognition but did go closed source after they gained some momentum. I have been using this for about a few weeks and the features I like are that it works much like you would expect in Netflix. If you activate notifications, you’ll be notified about a “new release” when you put something in your repository of media. I thought that was kind of cute. Setting it up is pretty trivial and I will be doing a write-up on this as well.

I want to do reviews of each of these media servers with my openSUSE Tumbleweed based workstation / server and see how it goes. Really, there is enough horsepower, I can have all three running and see how each of them, play out, as it were.

Restoring my Nexus 6P To Working Order

As a kind of Christmas gift to myself, I spent the 5th day of Christmas disassembling and installing a new battery into this phone. I shelved the project in August but didn’t put it out of sight. Seeing it almost daily, I’ve had it gnawing on me to get it done and I finally did it.

I bought a battery replacement kit on eBay for this phone that had most of the tools I needed. I had no interest in doing a tear down video as there are plenty of those on YouTube. YouTube Video demonstrating battery replacement of the Nexus 6P. Although the repair of the device was rather annoying and tedious, you know, just difficult enough to scare off smarter people than me, the part that took me the longest was updating the phone and installing LineageOS with everything working.

There was only one issue, really, working cell service. The problem ended up being that the was a security lock out that prevented the SIM from being accessed and disabling it is what ended up fixing it.

More on the repair and installation of LineageOS here

BDLL Followup

As we wrapped up the year in BDLL challenges, our task for this week was to make some predictions about the year 2020. They didn’t have to be Linux related so, exactly but since Linux and tech is the focus of the show, it would only make sense to keep it as such.

What I am wishing for, in 2020, is commercial grade CAD / CAM, manufacturing technology software to come to Linux, not necessarily for home use but for use in business.

Specifically, what I would like to see is Fusion 360 by Autodesk supported in some level on Linux. It already runs well in Linux through Lutris but having actual support for it would be fantastic. I would also like to see PTC’s Creo running on Linux. PTC once supported Linux with earlier offerings of their mechanical design package but no longer do so today. It would be great to see.

BDLL Community Predictions for 2020

openSUSE Corner

Tumbleweed Snapshots 20191210, 20191211, 20191213, 20191214, 20191216, 20191221

Aside from bug fixes, removing dependencies that are not needed, here are some of the highlights of the last six snapshots

Rammina, an rdp client to version 1.3.7 which included improvements to translations, better authentication MessagePanel API, Printer sharing improvements, and various bug fixes

NetworkManger, updated to 1.8.25+20. Applet scales icons for HiDPI displays.

Bluez, the bluetooth stack, received a version update to 5.52. Fixed AVDTP session disconnect timeout handling, disabled one more segfaulting patch, and fixed numerous issues.

KDE Plasma updated to 5.17.4. Discover Fwupd will no longer whine when there is unsupported hardware. Improvements to KWaylend integration, and numerous other fixes and improvements.

GNOME Desktop was updated to 3.34.2 which has undoubtedly further improved the experience for it’s users.

GTK3 updated to 3.24.13+0

Gstreamer Plugins, updated to 1.16.2. Fixed numerous issues in the v4L2video codecs

Wireshark updated to 3.0.7 which addressed CVE-2019-19553 CMS dissector crash

Akonadi has been updated to 19.12.0 There weren’t any features added but improvements and bug fixes were implemented.

Wireguard updated to version 0.0.20191219 that added support for nft and prefer it, and fixed other various issues.

YaST updated to 4.2.47, bug fixes and refinements to how it operates

php7 updated to 7.4.0 where systemd restrictions for FPM were relaxed and other various improvements

Tumbleweed Snapshot Reviewer gives 20191210 a stable 99; 20191211 a stable 99; 20191213 a stable 91, 20191214 a moderate 90; 20191216 a stable 96 and 20191221 a stable 98.

Computer History

This is a new segment I am going to try out for a few episodes to see how it fits. Since I am vintage tech enthusiast, not an expert, I like looking back and seeing the interesting parallels between the beginning of the home computer or micro-computer revolution compared to now.

The Computer Chronicles is a program that spanned for 20 seasons, starting in 1983. The original hosts, Stewart Cheifet and Gary Kildall’s first episode focused on Mainframes to Minis to Micro computers and it was such a fascinating discussion. Stewart Chiefet asks Gary, right of the bat, if he thinks whether or not we are at the end of the line of the evaluation of computers hardware or if there major new phases of this evolutionary process.

Gary responds with “no” and saying that they are getting smaller, faster and less expensive. He speculated that they will get so small you will lose them like your keys.

Couldn’t help but think if Gary was still alive today, how many times would he have lost his cell phone today and would he think back to those words. I know that I lost my cell phone in my house, the one I just fixed three times.

Watching the demonstration of the TX-0, the first transistor powered computer give a demonstration was quite fascinating.

The Super computer from the 1960s filled entire rooms while they experimented with parallel processing In the 1970s, computers miniaturized to Something resembling a single server rack and were called minis and were considered portable because they were on wheels. The late 70s and into the 80s, micro-computers came into prominence and although substantially cheaper the Mainframes, Minis and Micros, still far more expensive than what can be picked up today.

I found this particular episode very interesting due to the excitement of how small computers were getting but by today’s standards, really quite large. The hunger for speed was just as apparent in 1983 as it is today in 2019… almost 2020.

The micro-computer they demonstrate here is a Hewlett Packard HP-150 which was an attempt at being user friendly with a touch screen interface. Nothing like the touch screens of today as it uses infra red transmitters. It is noteworthy that in the demonstration of the machine by Cyril Yansouni, the General Manger of the PC Group at HP, it was stated that the most intuitive tool to interact with the computer is your finger. That holds true today, looking at how people interact with tablets and mobile devices. The interaction seemed rather clunky by today’s standards but I think it is pretty cool to see the innovation of the time. Mr. Yannsouni also stated that he doesn’t think that this alone is the most ideal interface. He stated that he thinks that there will be some combination of touch, keyboard, mouse and even voice that will be something more idea. I think he was correct on this. This machine, the HP-150 has a kind of goofy look about it but at the same time, pretty cool as well. I’m really glad it was demonstrated.

The direction that was being discussed here was the future of computer technology. Herb Lechner stated that the future will be networking computers together through local area networks so data can be shared. Gary Kildall and Cyril Yansouni speculated, very excitedly, that the data communication will be over the phone system as the future of networking because local networks are too expensive and difficult to set up. I wonder what they would say today about this.

What I really learned from this particular episode is that, one, our desire for smaller, faster, better computers hasn’t changed. There was experimentation on form and function of computers with what the best of technology had to offer for the time and there was lots of fragmentation, far more than anything we have today. I also learned that most of the experts tend to be wrong about the future of technology, that hasn’t changed today either.

The Computer Chronicles, Mainframes to Minis to Micros (1983)

Final Thoughts

2020 is on the horizon, and to quote my favorite fictional character of all time, Doc Brown, “the future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.” Make 2020 the best year you can, be kind to one another and should things not go as you planned, don’t hold any resentment against yourself or those around you.

Things are Looking Pod-tastic | Fall Time Blathering

When I first started to put fingers to keyboard with this “CubicleNate.com” thing, I didn’t ever envision it become much of anything. Just a little tool to help keep my notes somewhat organized and hope that I could provide some kind of resource to someone at some point. In late 2018, I joined the Big Daddy Linux Live community, appearing frequently on the weekly “LUG” meetings and making many new e-friends that challenged me to expand my knowledge of Linux and open source software. This has given me new things to play with and write about in Linux.

I started to produce some video content on YouTube and this site to enhance some of my content and later, I thought I would cut my teeth on a podcast of my own to talk about the nerdy things I enjoy. My reoccurring topics consist of my additional thoughts about a subject or two of the last BDLL show and an openSUSE corner but truth be told, openSUSE weaves itself throughout my “noodlings”.

In September of 2019, the formation of Destination Linux Network was announced where these well established content creators have pooled their resources to draw together their somewhat discrete communities and provide a forum for interaction in greater depth than what Telegram, Discord or YouTube can provide on their own.

As part of the launch of this new Destination Linux Network, I was asked if I was interested in starting a podcast with one Eric Adams. My immediate reaction was an absolute and resounding, “yes” to which I have no regret. The podcast is called “DLN Xtend” where we discuss a part of some of the other shows in greater depth with our own perspectives and slant on the subject. It has been loads of fun to do and I hope to continue to be a part of this as well as the Destination Linux Network for years to come.

Additionally, and not directly related, I have been able to join Dave and Yannick one of my new favorite podcasts, “Tea, Earl Grey Hot“, an unofficial Star Trek fan podcast as well as the “Ask Noah Show” where we discussed some of the merits of Microsoft and their contributions to the open source software movement.

It has been a fun ride that had has lead me to some new and interesting opportunities, not only am I blessed with being able to interact with some of the most interesting minds in Linux and open source software but it has opened up doors with other tangentially related topics.

Noodlings | Symphony, Power Tools and Storage

My 6th noodling might be my longest noodling yet. It started out a bit light but then after reading I just got a bit too excited. If you want to skip to the end where I do a little self-deprecation and ignore the meat of it, that is very understandable.

The 6th Noodling can be obtained here

Linux Symphony

I took my kids to the symphony this past Sunday. It was hugely beneficial to have the kids experience a symphonic performance. It made for a pretty decent lesson about the benefits of working together. When the orchestral members were warming up before they begin the performance there is a cacophony of sounds and although individually, the instruments sound nice, together it sounds like a mess. When the performance started and the conductor did his conducting, keeping everyone on pace and on the “same sheet of music” as it were, you could listen and imagine the story of events in the mind’s eye. Everything from serious and intense melodies to whimsical light hearted tones. Although my kids could only manage to sit through an hour of the performance, there were lots of lessons to be extracted about the benefits of working together.

How this can be applied to the Linux community is as such. When we work together, in harmony with one another, we can make for some amazing results. Whether it is the latest Ubuntu MATE, the newest release of Plasma or helping someone through a tech question, by working together in a kind and respectful tone we can achieve great things. I am of the belief that all Linux is good Linux and by making any one aspect better, we make it all better, regardless of the flavor of Linux or desktop you choose.

Let’s make some beautiful music

Dell Latitude E6440 Caddy Drive Bay

My primary machine that I am using I didn’t choose lightly, I wanted a lot of flexibility in a fairly small package. Since I like to test things in VM, I wanted to have the option of a third hard drive. What I discovered is that it doesn’t seem to matter how much storage I have available, I seem to fill it up. I am starting to think that maybe I have a problem.

I do clean out my drives from time to time but I find that the more space I have, the sloppier I am about cleaning up the cruft. I am preparing to build a system with a heck of a lot more storage and after making my hard drive purchases, I realized, I may have purchased too small of drives. If this is the case, I think I have a strategy to compensate for this.

I did create a YouTube video of the ease of using the drive bay for additional storage as I knew it would be a short thing and provide me an opportunity to edit something together. A consequence of the additional drive has resulted in me rarely poping in the optical drive. Perhaps my needs for optical media is fading?

Power Tools

I recently change over all my cordless power tools to the DeWalt 20V max line. I do spend a lot of time outside of the cubicle doing non-cubicle activities and I have recorded much of it and scripted some things out to share my findings and reasoning from the perspective of a Linux Geek. Although power tools are not strictly a nerdy activity, there is a lot of nerdiness to be had. My specific high points of what I find is that the price per tool combined with the watt-hour of use per charge and number of charges per battery made it the best bang for your buck. The other main factor is the variety of tools I have available to me with this one battery platform. In an effort to simplify my life, this is what I have chosen and so far, it has exceeded my expectations.

BDLL Follow up

One of the things I like about BigDaddyLinux Live is the discussion we have on there. Some of it, I don’t have much to contribute as it is either outside my area of expertise or maybe I am still forming my opinions. There were two topics that really engaged me last Saturday. The first being developing on Linux and the second on virtual memory or in Linux called Swap.

On development, there is a lot of negativity towards Electron applications from some in the Linux community. In short, an Electron application is a cross platform thing that allows a developer to make an application for Linux, MacOS and Windows. One of those things is really cool and the other two, not as much. The benefit is, it is an easy way to maintain a single codebase and maximize the number of platforms that can reached.

The draw backs are that Electron is quite inefficient. The storage space it takes up is fairly extensive and the RAM usage is also weighty. With newer computers, this is not an issue. If you have 16 or 32 GiB of RAM this isn’t an issue, if you have 2 or 4 GiB of RAM this can be an issue.

How-To Geek on Electron Applications

A discussion that start on the Discourse and made its way into the show was about using Swap in Linux when there is so much RAM available in modern systems. The question is to Swap or not to Swap and how much Swap and what kind of Swap. I recommend watching BDLL from 05 October 2019 for the extended discussion or going to the BDLL Discourse for opinions outside of mine.

Swap reminds me a lot of the bank switching that was common on 8-bit computers of old except instead of keeping the data in a switchable bank, this is putting it on a hard drive or SSD. The issue I find with Swap is if you are really taxing your system, you can end up with having a lot of disk thrashing that can really bring your system down to a crawl.

For my primary machine, I have set aside 17 GiB of Swap space, just in case. I have used it on more than one occasion… maybe due to Electron apps and it has come in handy when I haven’t paid attention to memory usage when using Google Chrome. Swap space on the two Acer AspireOne netbooks I set up for my kids gets used pretty regularly. Whenever using the a web browser they do dip into the swap space often.

Since I’ve been using Linux now for quite some time, I have the space to spare and I do take advantage of the hibernate to disk (or SSD) function from time to time, I set my system up with a Swap partition. It is an old fashion and inflexible approach and I am okay with that. The benefits of a swap file are probably greater but since openSUSE makes it very easy set up a Swap partition and I know what I am getting with it. That is what I will stick with, for now.

openSUSE Corner

openSUSE Leap to SLE

An often forgotten bit of openSUSE that makes is rather remarkable is how closely the Leap project is with the SLE project. One of my good E-friends, Mauro, who does the Linux thing as a profession, not a hobby and home-gamer like me was telling me how easy it is to move a client from an unsupported openSUSE Leap system to a SUSE Linux Enterprise support contract without disruption.

I know that this is not possible with CentOS and Red Hat but with Canonical’s Ubuntu it is essentially the same distribution. What I find interesting is the different executions of each of the distributions of integrating community based projects with commercial offerings. My preference here is the [open]SUSE model as it seems like a cleaner approach, though I see the benefits of the Canonical method too.

Tumbleweed Snapshots 20190923 20190925 20190926 20190927

Many updates included gcc9 version 9.2.1, gcc8 version 8.3.1, gcc7 version 7.4.1, Plasma Framework 5.62.0, Plasma Workspace 5.16.5, Xorg-X11-server 1.20.5, Kernel 5.3.1 and several bug fixes around YaST and PulseAudio and a bug around not being able to duplex print with Okular.

The Tumbleweed Snapshot reviewer gives 20190923 a stable score of a 97; 20190925 a stable score of 98; 20190926 a stable score of 98; and 20190927 a moderate score of 83.

If you want to lock yourself on the latest Stable snapshot from the 26th of September:

tumbleweed switch --install 20190926

Project Name Change Vote

As of today, the polls are open for a name change on the project. I did cast my vote and after reading through the mailing list, there is a little bit if heat concerning the issue. Ultimately, the hope is that it is a clear in favor or not in favor of the name change. If it is closer to a 50-50 split, that can potentially be more problematic. I personally am hoping that we just keep the status quo. Although I do agree that some of the legal constraints with the relationship to SUSE can be problematic for end-user experience, things like codec installation and such. There are some benefits with the brand association, especially in respect to the SLE to Leap for those that are in the space of selling solutions.

Asia Summit 2019

The sixth openSUSE Asia Summit just concluded this past weekend. It took place at the Fakultas Teknik of the Universitas Udayana in Bali, Indonesia. There were a number of participants that traveled from 20 different nations around the world to join the students at the university. Students not only made their first contributions to open source technology but also volunteered with running the summit.

KDE and openSUSE

The Beta version of Plasma 5.17 was released with new features and improvements such as per-screen fractional scaling on Wayland and a new User Interface for configuring permissions of Thunderbolt devices and network statistics in KSysGuard. Due to increase in user privileges with this feature is being examined by the SUSE security team.

openQA found a few bugs with GIMP, some applications were mixing Kirigami and Qt Widgets that were breaking some keyboard shortcuts that were addressed and will be fixed in the final release of Plasma 5.17.

If you are interested in testing the 5.17 Beta of Plasma in either Leap or Tumbleweed installation, you can read how here: https://en.opensuse.org/SDB:KDE_repositories.

Leap 15.2 will see some major version upgrades of many components such as a new version of the Linux Kernel, Qt 5.12 LTS, Plasma 5.18 LTS and the latest KDE Frameworks and Applications. A full Wayland session that arrived in Tumbleweed a few weeks ago will be available in Leap 15.2. Testers are welcome to ensure the best user experience possible.

Qt 5.14 branch is still in early stages but the development teams have been busy integrating it into openSUSE builds. Bugs have been identified and most of them fixed so it is possible to build projects against Qt 5.14. One of the most user visible features is the implementation for scaling for HiDPI displays that was mostly rewritten and hardware acceleration for Qt Quick using a new abstraction layer. It can also take advantage of the Vulcan API.

Noodlings | Desktops and Window Managers, BDLL and openSUSE News

Another podcast and after listening to the final thing… I sound a bit like cardboard. Maybe episode 3 won’t smell like wet newspaper.

Listen here, it’s only 10 minutes and 30 seconds of cringe-worthy material.

Desktops and Window Managers

I view KDE Plasma as the pinnacle of all things that are the Desktop and portal into your digital life. This is of course my own opinion but really, what else can do as much as Plasma, in as little resources and be as flexible as it is.

Xfce is the GTK desktop that is, in my estimation, the benchmark to which all GTK desktops should be measured against. It is what I would call a “classic” Redmond style interface that is familiar to nearly everybody.

i3 is a very interesting window manager, I would still call it a desktop of sorts though the “hard core” users of it may say otherwise. It uses Gnome so it is encumbered by the Gnome limitations. If it could somehow be Xfce based, it would seemingly make more sense. I did some searching and so far as I can tell, I have not been able to find a Kwin based Window manager as opposed to i3.

11 Best Tiling Window Managers for Linux

What this lead me to was a discovery that Plasma has the capabilities of being a pretty darn decent tiling window manager. In my case, I am using some of the power of tiling with the traditional floating window desktop, so, in effect having the best of both worlds there.

BDLL Recap

There is a lot of talk about bringing new users to Linux and Adam Grubbs set up an Ubuntu Laptop similar to what you might buy from an OEM. Adam wanted to see how a new user might get along with a brand new Linux desktop.

The key bit of the conversation was the user’s experience of setting up Lutris. I have historically used Wine or Crossover to install Windows games on Linux and Lutris wasn’t quite as obvious on how to use it.

There was some difficulty of getting going with Linux, icons were a bit different and, better curation of applications could be a benefit. For example, searching for Steam doesn’t necessarily bring up Steam in an application search.

What is the solution?

I don’t think that there is any one particular solution to solve this for everyone. I am also not sure how “user friendly” Linux needs to be. Where Linux would, most certainly benefit:

  • Documentation Improvements to make it easier to become acquainted with the Linux Desktop
  • Something like Clippy as a built in guide to help you out when you are stumped
  • Ultimately, the strength of Linux is the community, be open to help people problem solve their way through Linux.

The Current BDLL Distro Challenge is Endless OS. This can be downloaded from here.

openSUSE Corner

Snapshots 20190902 20190829

Multiple YaST Packages trickled down with updates.

Libreoffice 6.3.1.1 removed some patches.

The welcome window for openSUSE received more translations for global users with an update of the opensuse-welcome 0.1.6 package.

openSUSE MicroOS, specifically the core appliance buildier Kiwi, has been further updated, it added required cryptomount coding for for EFI boot.

openSUSE MicroOS is designed for container hosts an optimized for large deployments. It benefits from the rolling of Tumbleweed and the SUSE Linux Enterprise hardening and scale of deployment. It is optimized for large deployments but is just as capable with a single container-host. Uses the BTRFS snapshots for updates and rollback.

20190902 snapshot has a very exciting change that really was a long time coming with proper PackageKit integration with Tumbleweed. Unless you have a bunch of crazy repositories, PackageKit will now handle your updates just as well as you would have it in Leap.

Snapshot 20190829 received a moderate score of 90 while 20190902 is trending at moderate 86 and 20190904 at a stable score of 93.

What I am doing with openSUSE

I am working with a Linux community member to create an openSUSE Tumbleweed based replacement for IPFire or pfSense. This is still in progress but as of today, I am real excited about it and the prospect of having an openSUSE based firewall / router with all the flexibility and modularity that it brings.

References

Best Tiling Window Managers for Linux on TecMint.com
openSUSE Tumbleweed Snapshot Review
BDLL Regolith Linux and New User Experience
Adam Grubbs Site
EndlessOS Download
CubicleNate Noodlings | Episode 02