not all change is progress
November 24, 2014
Direct download links: MP3 & Ogg
Ubuntu MATE 14.04, interview with Martin Wimpress, reviewIntro
Jesse briefly brought us to to date with his experiences running Fedora 21, and Joe grumbled about the all new (and supposedly improved) Android 5.
Security as a Plug-in
ISPs Removing Their Customers’ Email Encryption (the EFF has kicked off a STARTTLS Everywhere project, which aims to deal with issues like this)
Let’s Encrypt: Bringing HTTPS to Every Web Site (EFF blogpost)
The Underlying Layer in Most ‘Secure’ Messaging Apps Might Not Be So Secure
We mentioned that there had been lots of Tor news over the
last fortnight, but rather than adding an extra half hour to
the show thought it best to simply provide links here for
81% of Tor users can be de-anonymised by analysing router information, research indicates
Tor Project initial response
Tor eyes crowdfunding campaign to upgrade its hidden services
Large Number of Tor Hidden Sites Seized by the FBI in Operation Onymous were Clone or Scam Sites
Introducing Polaris Privacy Initiative to Accelerate User-focused Privacy Online (précis)
Firefox Faux Pas?
Here They Are: Ads in Firefox
New Search Strategy for Firefox: Promoting Choice & Innovation
Mozilla’s 2013 annual report: Revenue up just 1% to $314M, and again 90% came from Google
New and Shiny! And New and Unshiny!
Raspberry Pi Model A+ On Sale Now At $20
Fifth, a new browser using Webkit and FLTK
Crowd Funding (or Fashion?)
anonabox is back from the dead (for now)
Librem 15: A Free and Open Source Laptop That Respects Your Essential Freedoms
Odds ‘n’ Sods
Status Update For “LXDE”
Help the GNOME Foundation defend the GNOME trademark against Groupon!
Gnome Update (UPDATED)
Ubuntu and Debian
Q&A with Mark Shuttleworth
Freexian’s third report about Debian Long Term Support
After Joey Hess resigned from the entire Debian project, Tollef Fog Heen resigned from the systemd maintainer team (personal blogpost)
Colin Watson quit the Technical Committee, swiftly followed by Russ Allbery
Bruce Perens offered some apposite thoughts
Results for the Debian init system coupling GR (vote breakdown overview)
And rapidly after the failure of his GR, Ian Jackson also quit the Technical Committee
A huge thank you to Charles Malpas and Solomon Jackson for becoming our latest Monthly Supporters; and to johanv, defascat and cocreature for the Flattrs.
And thanks to everyone whose comments we didn’t explicitly mention on the show. We do read everything, and it often gives us pause for thought – so keep it coming.
Daniel, SonOfNed, Isaac Carter and Charles Malpas all got in touch following the (probably not particularly untimely!) demise of our First Impressions segment, with some good suggestions.
Arthur Tan wondered whether we thought the community around Ubuntu could carry the distro should Canonical ever drop the desktop side of things. This prompted a bit of discussion, during which Paddy mentioned a blog post by Aaron Seigo that’s only tangentially related, but well worth a read.
evk, Daniel and Joe had a back and forth about Sailfish and the TOHKBD keyboard project. And, if you’ve not seen it, the IndieGOGO campaign for a Jolla tablet can be found here.
Twisted Lucidity chipped in with some more suggestions to help Jesse transfer files between Android and Linux; and Pat Regan raised the interesting prospect of using the BadUSB vulnerability to good ends.
We briefly talked about the comments Nathan D. Smith’s had left on our website, where he expressed some disagreement with Paddy’s views on the downsides of OpenStack and containerisation.
Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér pointed us towards a free and self-paced online Internet History, Technology, and Security course. And thinking about Internet history, Paddy mentioned that he’d been thoroughly enjoying listening to the Internet History Podcast.
Daniel, Andrew Lindley, SonOfNed and Floyd Wallace offered differing perspectives on licensing following our look at Trisquel last time. It’s a can of worms that we probably ought to open again at some stage in the future, as Jesse wasn’t with us the last time we risked alienating our audience. But let’s leave it a while, eh?
1:12:22 Ubuntu MATE 14.04 – Interview
We caught up again with Martin Wimpress to find out what the reaction to the recently released LTS version of Ubuntu MATE had been, and how he sees things developing.
Thanks to Martin for again finding the time to talk to us about a project that we’re keen to see succeed.
1:35:28 Ubuntu MATE 14.04 – Review
We brought up a couple of concerns with Martin during our conversation, but are they really significant in the grand scheme of things? Trying to put aside our natural enthusiasm, we attempted to answer the big question: how does Ubuntu MATE 14.04 actually shape up?
It seems you all overlooked the more obvious scenario
with the Firefox Yahoo debacle.
That is yahoo simply offered them more money. Firefox does have a significant market share, and the majority of users don’t tend to change their default search engine (see bing/IE popularity)
I see the move by Firefox as being a purely financial
the question is, who will pay us the most money to be our default search engine?
Being a corporation or foundation it doesn’t matter, they both need money to pay developers and staff and maintain themselves.
I agree it could well be that too, their deal was up for renewal so they could have gone with the highest bidder – but I personally believe there has to be motive behind diversification too.
On a similar note, Apple may follow suit (may being
the emphasised word in that sentence!)
Yeah, I agree that money was likely a factor. Perhaps not Yahoo alone but the combination of Yahoo and the other localized default search providers put together totaled more, or the prospect for more, income than Google was providing to be the global search provider. Also, as referenced on the show, perhaps Google’s offer this year was lower than previous years as it loses interest in promoting a rival product now that Chrome is so well established.
I wonder what fraction of Mozilla’s income (and additional development resources from things like Google Summer of Code) will come from Google following this change. I am guessing it is still a significant fraction (it is still one of the pre-installed search engines, just not the default). I think that is why Mozilla did not present the search change as a move away from Google. There is no reason to burn bridges. I am not aware of any evidence that Yahoo has been better than Google on any of the metrics that Mozilla cares about, so I don’t see how they could emphasize the move away from Google without sounding hypocritical or paranoid. It is nice that Mozilla was able to announce that Yahoo would honor Do Not Track in conjunction with the Firefox search deal though. That move might have played a role in the decision as well given how Mozilla has tried to rebrand itself in recent months as an advocate for openness and privacy on the web.
It will be interesting to see how the Firefox sponsored tiles implementation progresses. I tested it out on a clean profile and saw one sponsored tile (for booking.com) and seven Mozilla and Firefox related tiles. On my main profile, I see only the sites I visit most often because the sponsored tiles get phased out once you have enough browsing history to populate the tiles with. Mozilla sounds much more corporate when discussing sponsored tiles than the default search engine to me, mainly because it does not call them ads but also because the implementation is conservative. For most existing users, there will be no change and for new users there will just be one ad where before there would be empty space. I could see the program expanding in the future though — more ads in a fresh install, perhaps one or more tiles reserved for ads even when browsing history has been populated.
In a perfect world, Mozilla would get all the support it needs directly from its users, but that’s not the state of things today. Personally, as a Firefox user, I’d rather Mozilla got its funding from a diverse set of sources rather than all from Google, so I hope these changes work out well for it (though I’m not optimistic).
Oh dear, TL;DR.
What I take away from your review of Ubuntu MATE 14.04 is that the “devil is in the detail” and I am perfectly happy with that :-)
When you consider Ubuntu MATE didn’t exist 5 months ago, a review that focuses on little issues rather than glaring failures or breakage is very satisfying. It underlines that we have been able bootstrap Ubuntu MATE to a decent standard very quickly and we do now have a stable foundation to improve upon.
When I heard Paddy couldn’t make a bootable USB with `dd` I put on my sad face :-( I can only imagine this is due to my unofficial build environment and hope such issues can be put behind us as we progress toward official status.
With regard to the limited beta testing, Ubuntu MATE 14.04 is very similar to Ubuntu MATE 14.10 with only the underlying Ubuntu base differentiating them. Therefore Ubuntu MATE 14.04 didn’t require the same degree of testing that 14.10 did and any issues you identified in 14.04 are almost certainly present in 14.10 as well.
Ubuntu 14.04 was released about a week later than I intended in order to get some additional testing completed and while there was no pressure to release on a specific date we can’t afford to put the same effort into 14.04 that we did for 14.10. We need to shift the focus to 15.04 as early in the cycle as possible and start working towards earning our official status.
Fixes to Ubuntu MATE 14.04 can be delivered via updates which is why absolute perfection on release day was not so critical. We are getting far more engagement on our bug tracker since the 14.04 release than we had with 14.10. The issues raised against 14.04 are often present in 14.10 too. Today I finally found time to work through the bug tracker and a number of packages have been updated to address several issues that have been reported. The bugs raised against Ubuntu MATE fall into 3 categories:
* Bugs in upstream in Ubuntu that affect all Ubuntu
flavours. I try to progress these as best I can.
* Bugs in upstream MATE, which I can progress within the MATE Desktop team.
* Bugs in Ubuntu MATE settings and meta packages, which I can address directly.
With that in mind, these are the well reported bugs that are actually Ubuntu MATE specific. Not that many really, far fewer than you portrayed.
As to the aesthetics, beauty is in the eye of the beholder :-) The default theme in Ubuntu MATE 14.04 and 14.10 was my idea. I had a feeling that if we created something that looked very similar to Ubuntu when it shipped GNOME2, it would drive adoption and create a buzz. I think that worked. The green (Chelsea Cucumber) is the base colour from the MATE Desktop logo and popey was very keen we “go green” since none of the other Ubuntu flavours use green as a base colour. The default theme will most likely change over time, but as you pointed out, Ubuntu MATE ships with several themes and is highly customisable allowing users to easily create something more to their liking.
I actually use the Ubuntu fonts on my Arch Linux workstations, I really like them. I have used the same fonts and font configuration in Ubuntu MATE that you’ll find in stock Ubuntu because I wanted to keep the look and feel as familiar as possible.
Fair comment about the touch pad, I’ve added a note to the TODO list for 15.04 to override the default behaviour.
MATE Tweak is going to be the basis for comprehensive user interface switching and desktop configuration, including changing panel layouts. I like the idea of adding options to change the lock screen and login screen backgrounds. Likewise, adding Netbook mode configuration to MATE Tweak is also a good idea. You’ll find that `mate-netbook` is documented on the Ubuntu MATE download page, and has been for months ;-) Windows snapping is disabled by default in stock MATE. I love window snapping so I have overridden the defaults in Ubuntu MATE to enable it by default ;-) We also have plans to add a Welcome screen on first login to guide users to some of the more interesting control centre applets, just as you described.
Launchers that run shell scripts do not currently work with `mate-terminal` due to an upstream Ubuntu bug in `xdg-utils`. This bug is not present in Debian and indicative of the regressions that Ubuntu can exhibit due to Ubuntu specific patching preventing newer packages syncing automatically from Debian. I will be working with to get this specific issue resolved for 15.04.
If the Software Updater was fixed, it had nothing to do with me ;-) The Software Updater is an official Ubuntu tool maintained by Ubuntu. A good number of bugs raised against Ubuntu MATE are actually bugs in other packages and I’ve spent a deal of time moving incorrectly filed bugs to the correct projects.
My role in Ubuntu MATE is as integrator, facilitator and coordinator. Right now, a good deal of “making” Ubuntu MATE falls to me. But make Ubuntu MATE is impossible to achieve without the assistance of the core MATE Desktop team and the Debian maintainers. As jesse pointed out, during this unofficial period, I created and ran the iso build servers for Ubuntu MATE. This is another dependency on me that will be eradicated when we have access to the official build infrastructure. I also foresee more people being able to easily contribute and collaborate with the project as we become official. That said, I’d encourage people to donate to the project so we can run some development and bug bounties.
I am working with the Debian MATE team and use unchanged MATE packages from Debian in Ubuntu MATE, unlike Linux Mint who package MATE themselves. The reason the User Guide is missing from Ubuntu MATE is because some of the content in the user guide is under a license not compatible with Debian. The MATE Desktop team are currently working on re-writing the MATE documentation under a Debian compatible license but there is still a lot of effort required to get it completed. Fortunately a couple of members of the Ubuntu MATE community, with a background in technical writing, have expressed a keen interest in helping the upstream MATE team with documentation project. This validates my decision to create Ubuntu MATE as a means to grow the MATE community :-)
In closing, I found the review to be fair and useful. I’ve listened to Linux Luddites since episode 1 and your reviews of other distributions have been influential while creating Ubuntu MATE. With this review we have some positive feedback and good ideas that we can hopefully work into future Ubuntu MATE releases.
Martin, thanks much for taking the time to keep us updated on the progress of Ubuntu Mate (not to mention all the time you put into making Ubuntu Mate a reality). I’ve found each of your interviews very informative.
Ubuntu Mate could prove to be a huge ‘shot in the arm’ for the Ubuntu Desktop community and really help reconcile Canonical with those many Linux desktop users who have felt disenfranchised by Canonical’s big push for Unity on the desktop.
IMHO, official Canonical support for an Ubuntu Mate flavor would be a hugely positive development for the future stability of the whole Desktop Linux ecosystem, which would benefit all desktop Linux users, regardless of their personal preferences in desktops.
I did read (thank goodness I get a lunch HOUR!) and am pleased you were able to pick up the positives and some improvements from our review. It’s slightly superfluous of me to wish Ubuntu Mate all the best because we on the show all agree it’s going to explode, so that’s a given. And when have our predictions ever been wrong!?
I look forward to see how Ubuntu Mate improves and adds features and polish, and we will no doubt be in contact in the future (15.04 anyone?). Thanks again for sparing the time to talk to us….twice.
First of all every fortnight (as you guys across the pond say) I look forward to your podcast. I did kinda, sorta felt that you guys were a bit nit picky with your Mate review. And felt that Martin was very gracious listening to your complaints. I mean really “TOO GREEN”?
But anyhoo I do love your podcast and I enjoy your views, even though at times I don’t agree with them.
Keep up the great podcast.
WOAH, woah there – you don’t have the word
‘fortnight’ in America!? Really?? wow.
[5 mins pass]
Having now done my research, I realise that we also use the phrase bi-weekly differently from the rest of the world – we use it to mean twice a week whereas I believe you’d think it was every two weeks. But then we have a specific word for that…..
Anyway, I agree with your comment that we were a bit nit picky, and am pleased Martin was able to take positives despite that! And yes, too green – I stand by that comment.
Glad you enjoy the show, let us know if there’s anything you’d like to hear us cover or expand upon in future episodes.
I was interested in the problems you were experiencing regarding exchanging files between an android phone and a PC. There are two ways I do this on my Mint 17 box.
1/. To connect by USB run the following (one time only) “sudo apt-get -y install mtp-tools mtpfs gmtp” and then your file manager will see, copy and transfer files and folders to and from your phone.
2/. To connect over your wireless network download ES3 File manager to your Android phone and use the “Network” feature to access your computer files.
Hope that helps. Love the podcast keep up the good work.
A 2 hour show. Epic. I am just listening to it now. I’m a big fan of Android, and the first podcast I ever subscribed to was Android Central. I agree with Joe that the animations in Lollipop need more work. I also have a Nexus 5. In my opinion, overall performance is fine. I didn’t notice the delay in launching Music until Joe pointed it out. What I did notice and continue to dislike, is the intentional 2-second delay between viewing running apps, and seeing the “X” to close each of them. But fear not. Tweaks are coming. About 0.2% of the world’s Android devices are running Lollipop. So for a Luddite, Joe took a big risk. But I have confidence that Android will smooth things out. It is still the best phone and tablet platform.
2 positive spins here regarding your recent heavy coverage of Ubuntu GNU/Linux and also Android (which you did apologise for a bit ;-) last episode, “too much mobile”):
*I haven’t heard you talk much about Replicant. I recently stumbled across this, and this is an all-free-software, fsf-endorsed, system designed for Android-like mobile phones. If I was running such a phone, I would 100%, without even a thought, be using that or Cyanogen mod (which I’d have to learn more about, first). Many luddities might agree!
*I would also be curious if any/all of you have noticed the amount of people, nearly every day, seeking help for Ubuntu, on the Debian mailing-lists and/or irc rooms! If Ubuntu has such great support, and that may be one of their only remaining “advantages” for new users over other Linuxes, then why can’t people find it easily, or solve their problems in the community? Cheers
Paddy raised some good questions about whether Debian.org is encountering limits to the size of scale that is feasible for a non-commercial democratically governed community to develop a large complex technology.
I don’t want to sound alarmist, currently I don’t think that Debian.org is at risk of a rapid collapse, but I would be interested in hearing the thoughts of others about the ramifications of a _hypothetical_ demise of the Debian distro. What would be the impact if Debian releases were to become even more infrequent? What if they eventually ground to a halt?
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