Noodlings | BTRFS, Ultra Widescreens and Floppy Drives

Not having faded into the Podcast ether yet, I bring this nonsense to you almost a week late. At least, a week later than I wanted to complete this. In an effort to keep you interested

The 7th Noodling place of unrest

BTRFS

I have been using BTRFS on all of my openSUSE machines without issue. In my quest to build a new multi-roll system to act as a server, workstation and occasional casual desktop use, I wanted to have a storage solution that was very fault tolerant and would allow me to expand my disk size with minimal effort. That is in both replacing individual drives with larger drives and potentially adding another controller card to have more drives.

ZFS is in the news as the new “hotness” for a file system and it does indeed have a lot of the really awesome features BTRFS provides, maybe more but support in Linux doesn’t appear to be as robust as BTRFS. Could my mind change in the future? Absolutely, but for now, until I get the stability of BTRFS on root, the snapshot system and the ease of flexibility in altering the array of storage, I will stick with BTRFS.

https://btrfs.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/Using_Btrfs_with_Multiple_Devices

Ultra Widescreen Monitors

I have been looking at doing an upgrade to my monitor situation, for numerous reasons. The monitors I am using are of unequal resolution, size and aspect ratio, it has been fine but I am becoming less satisfied with its usability. This is especially true since I started to use some of the tiling techniques built into Plasma. I just happen to need more pixels. Looking at my available options, I became interested in one of these 1440p monitors. My issue is, I am not interested in a curved monitor. I think they look just a bit silly and I don’t stand directly in front of the computer all the time. Interestingly, it seems as though the curved screens are less expensive then their flat counterparts with the same resolution and frequency. Although I would prefer a flat screen, it is more economical and of better specifications to go with the curved model.

I’m not prepared to make a purchase today as I need to do some more research on the subject but I am now very much interested in a single 1440p monitor rather than my two cobbled, odd lots hanging above my laptop.

https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/80345/intel-core-i7-4610m-processor-4m-cache-up-to-3-70-ghz.html

End to Floppy Drives

US military has been using 8-inch floppy disks in an antiquated ’70s computer to receive nuclear launch orders from the President. Now, the US strategic command has announced that it has replaced the drives with a “highly-secure solid state digital storage solution,” Lt. Col. Jason Rossi

The 8-inch floppy disks have been used in an ancient system called the Strategic Automated Command and Control System, or SACCS.

It’s used by US nuclear forces to send emergency action messages from command centers to field forces, and is unhackable precisely because it was created long before the internet existed. “You can’t hack something that doesn’t have an IP address.

Despite the age of the system, the Air Force is confident in its security and has a pretty good handle on maintaining it. By contrast, installing an all-new system isn’t as easy as it sounds. “You have to be able to certify that an adversary can’t take control of that weapon, that the weapon will be able to do what it’s supposed to do when you call on it,”

https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/18/us-military-nuclear-missiles-floppy-disks/?guccounter=1

Sad Commodore 64 News

My U13 Logic chip is likely failing. I am sure it’s not the RAM as I am having an intermittent problem with my system. Sometimes I get a blank screen and sometimes some garbled mess of characters in a range of colors. Based on the likely causes, I am quite sure it is the 74LS257A Logic IC. That should cost me less than $1 for the part and around $10 on shipping.

https://retrocomputerverzamelaar.nl/commodore-64-problems/
https://www.retroleum.co.uk/results.php?q=logic

BDLL Follow Up

I am late on the release of this podcast, not because I am fading out already, but because of life things. Regardless, I wanted to follow up on a BDLL from 19 October 2019. The discussion was about distro hopping, why Linux users distro hop. Often when people are new to Linux, they hop around and try new distributions. Some people like to jump around every time there is something new released.

Some Distros cater to some bits of hardware better than others. MX Linux on old hardware, openSUSE on newer hardware, Manjaro or Pop!_OS for gaming. Debian for obscure hardware. Ubuntu and its flavors for the mainstream.

I am not a distro hopper, embed myself, decided to stick around and help out to the best of my ability.

Between Mandrake / Mandriva fading and embedding into openSUSE I jumped around a bit. When I decided on openSUSE, I knew it wasn’t perfect, there were some issues but they were easily mitigated, I was most enamored with the friendly and helpful community along with the “ecosystem” of tools around openSUSE. The ease of installing software the graphical way and a pretty awesome wiki.

I mostly try out other distros to see what else is out there. Nothing ever seems to capture me like openSUSE. There are many good choices of Linux and I would probably be content elsewhere but nothing quite gives me the excitement that the green chameleon clad openSUSE provides.

BigDaddyLinux Live 19 October 2019

openSUSE Corner

Lots of snapshots have rolled through with new software and subsequent bug fixes. Of note Plasma 5.17.0 has arrived in all of it’s Glory

Tumbleweed Snapshots 20191009 20191011 20191012 20191014

Firefox has been updated to version 69.0.2 which contained a single fix for Linux-only crashes when changing the playback speed of YouTube videos. Fwupd shipped at version 1.3.1, that is a daemon that allows session software to update the firmware. It now allows for disabling of all plugins and added support for thunderbolt interfae for kernel safety checks. Gstreamer and many of it’s plugins were updated to version 1.16.1 which offered performance improvements. nodejs12, python-packaging and tcpdump were updated to address more than two dozen CVEs.

Plamsa 5.17.0 arrived with some significant changes to the new version. The release announcement says that this new version is as lightweight and thrifty with resources as ever before. Notably, the start-up scripts were converted from a slower Bash to a faster C++ and now run asynchronously, which means it can run several tasks simultaneously, instead of having to run them in sequence. KDE Applications 19.08.2 improved High-DPI support in Konsole and other applications. Many bug fixes in Kmail and saving messages directly to remote folders has been restored. Many other KDE applications received updates as well. e2fsprogs update 1.45.5 addressed a CVE where an attacker would have been able to corrupt an ext4 partition. Updates to gnutls, Nano and php7 were also included.

Mumble was finally updated to 1.3.0 after getting through the rigorous legal review of the SUSE lawyers and now those crazy lips are gone.

The Tumbleweed Snapshot reviewer gives 20191009 a moderate score of a 90; 20191011 a stable score of 92; 20191012 a stable score of 96; and 20191014 a moderate score of 82.

The Project Name Change Vote Continues

The discussion around changing the name of the project is still continuing in the mailing list. The vote has been extended out to the 7th of November, 2019. It has been decided to create a wiki page to consolidate the information. The keypoints can be summarized by the following:

For Keeping the project name

  • If the name is changed, we would lose brand reputation earned over the years.
  • Many members and other contributors are strongly attached to the current name.
  • Changing the name might give the impression that the relationship between SUSE and openSUSE is strained.
  • A lot of work will be required to rename domains, OBS projects and metadata, GitHub namespace, packages trademarks, etc.
  • Rebranding requires a tremendous amount of communication (and money) over years to establish the new brand name.
  • SUSE can transfer or license relevant trademarks to an openSUSE Foundation.
  • The relationship with SUSE is part of our marketing strategy, e.g. Leap/SLE’s shared codebase.
  • Changing the project name will make current openSUSE swag (T-shirts, mugs, stickers, etc) obsolete.

Reasons in favor of the name change

  • openSUSE is often typed and/or pronounced incorrectly (e.g. OpenSUSE, OpenSuSE etc). Watch how do you say SUSE?
  • The Free Software Foundation (FSF) complains about the looseness of the term “open”.
  • The distinction between openSUSE and SUSE can be confusing to people new to either brand. Some people have been known to shorten openSUSE to SUSE.
  • If the community thinks that the project benefits from a new name then this is the moment to change it, i.e. before registering a new legal structure (like a foundation).

My thoughts on this, the reasons for a name change seams superfluous. Although I understand the there is some confusion and how it is typed is often wrong, those do not outweigh the marketing strategy of the Leap/SLE’s shared codebase, the amount of work that would go into rebranding, renaming and making all the cool things I have today obsolete.

I think it is good that we the openSUSE community have this discussion. It has been good for me as I can reflect on my reasons I don’t care for it and rather than just make it an emotional and close-minded decision, I can look at the facts and make a rational decision to keep the name just as it is.

If the name changes, I won’t be upset, disappointed, yes, but not upset. It is the community and the technology that I like, the name is secondary.

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Noodlings | Building and Converting

This is my fifth noodling and I did cut a few things. I will be playing with the length but this is about 13 minutes of my nonsense to chip tunes.

The 5th noodling installment can be found here

Commodore 64 IRC Success

I was able to get my Commodore 64 under its own power to access the IRC chat rooms, specifically the BigDaddyLinuxLive room where I was able to chat with such folks as Bill, Popey, Chris and another Allen. It is very satisfying experience. More on that here:

Commodore 64 on the Internet | IRC

Tech in the Courtroom

I recently had jury duty and the courthouse in my small-ish community, Windows 7 which is near end of life. For each bit of evidence, they used CDs and DVDs to store each individual item as evidence.

Building a Computer

I am building a computer for the first time in a very long time. I want to do it on a budget. I received some components at no cost to me, the case and motherboard so that drove the purchasing of the rest of the products.

Motherboard MSI 970A-G43

AMD FX-9590 CPU

Memory, 32 GiB DDR3 1866MHz

Video Card RX570

Storage 6x 2-TiB drives

1000 Watt Power Supply

Rather large case

All for about $350.00

More on this in the future.

Acer AspireOne Netbooks

Recently Set up two AspireOne Notebooks with openSUSE Tumbleweed using the Xfce environment. Initially one had had 1 GiB of RAM but an SSD, the other with 2 GiB of RAM and a slightly faster CPU but with a traditional hard drive.

https://cubiclenate.com/2019/09/29/acer-aspireone-d255-with-opensuse-tumbleweed-xfce/

Making Meringue from Egg Whites

Told after the fact two points of advice, whip the egg whites before you add the sugar, contrary to the directions and questioning whether or not there was any amount of egg yolk.

BDLL Follow Up

Manjaro is the current Distro Challenge… It’s Arch based so…

Eric Adams talked about how people can get “bug apathy” when they experience a problem on Linux or other open source software. know that I am guilty of that.

Bug reporting is something we Linux or free and open source software users should do. The vast majority of the software I don’t pay for, it’s open source and I believe that I have a social contract with these developers and maintainers to either help with the project or donate to it.

BigDaddyLinuxLive | 28 Sep 2019

openSUSE Corner

Tumbleweed Snapshots 20190918 20190920 20190921

PulseAudio 13.0 arrived which improved initial card profile selection for ALSA and improved 5.1 surround audio when set up.

LibreOffice 6.3.2.2 package received some stability tweaks and addressed two CVEs

Bash has been updated from 5.0 to 5.0.11 wich includes a minor update to bash to change POSIX mode behavior.

The Mesa 3D graphics library was updated to 19.1.7 wich fixed a Kwin compositor crash as well as cleaned up a few other bugs

The Python development tool Swig 4.0.1 added Python 3.8 support and fixed some regressions that were introduced in the 4.0.0 major release.

Plymouth added a time delay of 8 seconds to fit an AMD graphics card for graphical boot animation.

Mozilla Thunderbird was updated to 68.1.0 which eliminated some bugs, one of which is a CVE-2019-11739 that allowed for a Covert Content Attack on S/MIME encryption.

The file searching utility, Catfish 1.4.10, added some new features and cosmetically improved the application menu to make better use of space, padding and margins.

The snapshot reviewer gives a score for 20190918 of 90 for moderately stable; 20190920 a score of a stable 95 and 20190921 a stable 97.

Co-Conference Logo Competition for 2020

LibreOffice and openSUSE communities are having a joint conference next year in Nuremburg, German. For this special conference, they are having a logo competition. A logo is believed essential for the conference and they want to visualize both communities during this co-conference. LibreOffice will celebrate its 10-year anniversary and openSUSE will celebrate its 15-year anniversary during the conference.

Co-Conference Logo Competition for 2020 Post

Election Committee Set to Open Vote on Project Name

There have been discussions about the “openSUSE Project logo & name change” that started in June 2019 on the openSUSE Project mailing list. The Election Committee received a request from the Board to conduct a vote whereby openSUSE members can indicate whether they are for or against the project name change.

The voting will start on Oct. 10 and end on Oct. 31, which will provide three weeks for members to vote. The result will be announced on Nov. 1.

The voting exercise is limited to openSUSE members only.

Noodlings | Commander X16, BDLL and openSUSE News

With this episode it is a 33% increase in podcasting content for you to… enjoy is not the right word. Tolerate?

Have a listen

Commander X16 a New Retro Computer

The mission of the computer. Similar to the Commodore 64 but made with off the shelf components. As far as the architecture goes, it is actually closer to the VIC-20 on board design but far, far more capable. I am rarely excited about new things, I like my old computers and really existing technology. I tend to drag my heels at the very thought of getting something new. This, for whatever reason gets me excited and I can’t exactly put my finger on it.

This all started out as a kind of pondering in 2018 and in February 2019 with a video from David Murray, the 8-bit Guy’s Dream Computer. the discussion started by the 8-bit Guy

The initial design started with the Gameduino for the video chip which had some technical hurdles and was based on an obsolete, as in, no longer supported, chip that doesn’t have a large pool of developers and hackers working on it.

After some discussions and planning, it was decided to base it largely off of the VIC-20 as most of the chips are still available today and it is a known working design. Some of the changes would be a faster processor, better video and better sound components.

One of the goals of this project is to make it easy enough for one person to understand the whole board to make it easy to program.

Some of the highlights out of the list of specifications are:

  • WDC 65×02 @ 8 Mhz CPU (8-bit)
  • 40K of “Low RAM” 512K of “High RAM” standard Expandable to 2MB
  • Two AY-3-8910 sound generators (stereo)
  • “Vera” Video chip specifications
  • 128K of internal video RAM
  • 640×480 @ 60 Hz analog VGA output
  • PETSCII font

The graphics are on par or superior with the Amiga 500 and VGA graphics of that time which, for an 8-bit or 16-bit system which should make for some very interesting games to be targeted against this platform.

There is an emulator that can be downloaded from Github and YES, there is a Linux build for it. There is nothing to install as it is a self contained application where you can start mucking about with it. I just tested it, wrote some very basic BASIC programs and demonstrated to my kids how much fun it is to write your own programs so easily.

What makes this project interesting for me is that it is a kind of rebirth of the Commodore 64 in a kind of VIC-20 board design. Although this is still in the works, it is looking to be a fun educational tool and hobby device that can be a target for game development that uses mostly off the shelf components. I would call this a kind of Neo-Retro system that will hopefully end up in my collection of retro(ish) hardware in the not too distant future.

Building my dream computer – Part 1
Building my dream computer -Part 2, Commander X16 Introduction Video
Commnader X16 Facebook Group
Commander X16 Forum
Commander X16 Emulator

BDLL Follow Up

Manjaro Linux has formed a company and although I could really care little about Arch, I am glad to see that someone is looking at Linux which is free software and making a living from it. Forming a profitable company around Linux can’t be a bad thing, so long as those working on it don’t lose the focus on the core reasons they got into Linux in the first place.

MX Linux 19 is the next BDLL challenge. I don’t look at this as much of a challenge as this is the other distro that I have

BigDaddyLinux European Edition 14 Sep 2019
BigDaddyLinux 14 Sep 2019

Latest from openSUSE

From the openSUSE Corner comes some rather exciting new updates. The YaST Development Sprint 84 has brought about several improvements to YaST. The first was to address YaST’s usage of Qt UI Event handling. It has been a kind of non standard method and they always kind of “misused Qt to hammer it into shape” and it recently broke with the latest release of Qt. Digging into it a little bit, I am not sure why they are using Qt in a “non standard” way, maybe to be accommodating to the YaST ncruses interface, I have no idea, I am sure there will be more to come on all that.

There are updates to the wireless networking portion to make it more intuitive. This is a welcome change as this is quite likely the only think in the YaST installer that has really been a glaring issue for many users. This change should come to Tumbleweed soon.

Enhancements to the Partitioner with encrypted devices has been ongoing work. There are some changes that will be trickling down to broaden the set of technologies and use-cases that the partitioner supports. Already YaST does a lot in this regard so I will be keeping an eye on this for future development.

https://lizards.opensuse.org/2019/09/16/yast-sprint-84/

Snapshots 20190905, 20190907 and 20190909

The exciting new bundles of software joy that has come down include KDE Applications 19.08.01 which contain improvements to Kontact, Dolphin, Kdenlive, Konsole, Step and more. This is the first I learned of Step and this is an interesting education piece of software that I haven’t ever heard of before. In short it is an interactive physical simulator that allow you to explore the physical world in a simulated environment. This is something I will have to try.

The anti-malware application Clamav received an update that addressed two vulnerabilities, the Gnome web browser package epiphany plugged another memory leak. Plasma Desktop received a minor update to 5.16.5 and fixed KWayland-integration builds with recent frameworks and Qt 5.13.

About 15 CVEs were addressed with Mozilla Firefox which addressed Mozilla’s JavaScript Engine, Spidermonkey. Kdevelop5 received an update to 5.4.2 and dozens of other updates came down the pike.

The snapshots, in totality, are all scoring in the low 80s being considered moderately stable.

news.openSUSE.org 20190913 Update
Snapshot Reviewer

Noodlings | openSUSE News and other Blatherings

A lot more work than I initially anticipated, I have decided to start a “podcast” but the term “podcast” seems to pretentious for me in the same way that “blog” does so these are nothing more than audio blatherings of what I have been noodling around.

Or Click to listen to the Podcast Here

In Tumbleweed News

Standout updates in the snapshots released in the last two weeks have been pretty plentiful. As part of the fun in running openSUSE Tumbleweed, you get a regular stream of well tested software updates.

Some of the most recent changes includes updates for Mesa 3D Graphics Library with version 19.1.3 that mostly provided fixes for drivers and backends. The Mesa-ACO drivers are now in staging so that will be available soon in Tumbleweed.

KDE’s Frameworks and Plasma have been updated. There have been multiple fixes for KTextEditor, KWayland, KIO and Baloo. Plasma 5.16.4 provides bug fixes and Airplane mode improvements.

The Kernel has been updated to 5.2.10, VLC version 3.0.8 to improve adaptive streaming and a fix for stuttering and low framerates. CVEs were addressed with apache2 where a malicioius client could perform a Denial of Serve attack.

HP Linux Imaging and Printing package, hplip is now at version 3.19.6 which adds support for new printers. MariaDB 10.3.17 is enjoying five new CVE fixes

Pending rating for snapshot 20190824 is trending at a moderately stable score of 87, 20190828 is trending at 86. Tumbleweed Snapshot ratings can be viewed at the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer.

Xfce 4.14 has arrived in openSUSE

After 4 years in the making and a few more days of baking in the openSUSE Build Service. Xfce has been run through the openSUSE gauntlet of openQA, the automated quality assurance system and has been built, ready for Tumbleweed and backported to Leap as well. I tested it on version 15.1 and it has the same pzazz and vigor you’d see on Tumbleweed. 1After 4 years in the making and a few more days of baking in the openSUSE Build Service. Xfce has been run through the openSUSE gauntlet of openQA, the automated quality assurance system and has been built, ready for Tumbleweed and backported to Leap as well. I tested it on version 15.1 and it has the same pzazz and vigor you’d see on Tumbleweed.

The installation on Leap is about 443 packages when selecting to the X11:Xfce repository. Keep in mind, this is not the official repository but what is considered “Experimental” so keep that in mind, for what it’s worth.

Some of the changes that I find particularly noteworthy is that all the core components are now using GTK3. You can enjoy, potentially, a flicker and screen tearing free experience due to fully gaining support for VSync. If you have a High DPI monitor, your life with that hardware will be much improved and there have been some GLX compositor improvements. For more information on the improvements.

Changing the Chair of the openSUSE Board

Richard Brown has stepped down as the Chairperson of the openSUSE Board. He has been at it for six years and decided to hang it up. He wrote a nice letter to the community as a public statement and announced his successor, Gerald Pfeifer.

I saw a few social media posts saying he will be missed but I don’t think that is the case at all. He is still at SUSE and will still be a contributor to the project. It’s just that his role has changed back to working primarily on the technology and keeping his life in proper balance.

All good things must come to an end, I suppose but, again, not really an end, just a passing of the baton and the project keeps rolling. I personally wish Mr Richard Brown well on his endeavors.

Kata Containers in the Official openSUSE Tumbleweed Repository

Kata is container runtime similar to runC but focuses on security. The idea of Kata is a focus on security with an ease of integration with exiting container ecosystems. Kata should be used when running container images whose source is not fully trusted or when allowing other users to run their containers on your platform.

It is most common to see containers share the same physical and operating systems resources with host process. Host specific kernel features, such as namespace, are used to provide an isolation layer between the host and container processes.

Kata Containers, instead, run in lightweight virtual machines for added isolation and security to further reduce the host attack surface and mitigate the consequences of container breakout. Kata accomplishes this using KVM hardware virtualization and is configured to use a minimalist virtual machine manager (VMM) like Firecracker.

Kata can be used as a standalone as it’s intended to use to serve as a runtime when integrated in as a container engine

Uyuni version 4.0.2 is Release

Uyuni is an open-source infrastructure management solution, tailored for software-defined infrastructure. This is a fork of the Spacewalk project to provide more operating systems support and better scalability capabilities and now the the upstream for SUSE Manager.

The new features of Uyuni are monitoring, content lifecycle management and virtual machine management. It is available for openSUSE Leap 15.1

Other Thoughts

I have been playing with the Open Build Service to get familiar with the packaging. There is a lot yet for me to learn. Maybe someday I can actually become useful with it. Currently I am struggling with grasping some of the specifics but in this process I have grown to be very grateful to anyone that helps to maintain any and all software in any Linux distribution, let alone openSUSE

Final Thoughts

This is the first Podcast I have put together, it is without music or any effects. If I waited to put together the “perfect product” my first time out of the gate, everything I would have to update all my noodlings.

Feel free to send complaints or condescending comments to YouSmellLikeARottingFruitSalad@CubicleNate.com , if they are clean and family friendly and give me a chuckle, I must may read them.

References

News.openSUSE.org
Xfce 4.14 Lands in Tumbleweed
Xfce Official Tour
Xfce, a Model GTK Based Desktop | Late Summer Blathering
Richard Brown’s Announcement to Step Down as Chairperson
Kata Container Announcement on News.openSUSE.org
Firecracker microVMs Site
Version 4.0.2 of Uyuni is Release from News.openSUSE.org
Mesa projec Page
KDE Project page
https://cubiclenate.podomatic.com/