Older blog entries for tonyyarusso (starting at number 47)

23 Oct 2007 (updated 23 Oct 2007 at 23:56 UTC) »

So now that Gutsy has been released, I’ve started thinking about 8.04 “Hardy Heron”. I know it’s soon for most users, but I know the developer types will be meeting for UDS in just a few days to start planning the roadmap for the next release, so it’s a good time for this post. I asked Hobbsee what the best way to go about getting personal wishes done (as I don’t have the coding skills to do them myself), and the response was “find someone who cares” - meaning, try to pique the interest of someone who has the skills and finds it personally interesting to them too, then try to work together to implement it. So, that’s what I’m trying to do - throw out some of the thoughts I have for things that can be improved, and my hope is that someone, somewhere will see each item and contact me, saying “Hey, that’s a good idea; let’s talk”. I’ll start with something relatively simple - here goes!

Affects: Drivel (Desktop blogging client for Gnome)

The issue: Currently, it is only possible to indicate a single post “category” within Drivel. As the regular readers of my blog will know, I often have multiple categories. Therefore, I would like to see the simple dropdown available now replaced with a dropdown that has checkboxes rather than just a flat format. If someone can tell me how to make mockup screenshots perhaps that would better describe what I’m thinking of, but you get the general idea.

See also:

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23 Oct 2007 (updated 23 Oct 2007 at 23:37 UTC) »

Well, I’m happy to report that the Minnesota LoCo successfully pulled off their first in-person event! Granted, this was nothing like the Venezuelan release party, but it will certainly do for now. We had about thirty people show up (one person reported counting 28, but we had some trickle in and out in the middle), which was half the capacity of the room and six times the number I was sure were coming ahead of time.

Overall, I’d classify the event as a good start, and a learning experience. Things didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned, for a handful of reasons, but was still generally good. People were able to meet some other like-minded folks, a lot of people had questions that we were able to answer, and people seemed to walk away happy and enthused. I would have liked to have it be more social so people could mingle with the other folks there more, and have some development-related stuff I’ll need to follow up with for the CSci students at some later date as we ran out of time.

On the way out, I was able to spend a few minutes talking with Jeremy from TCLUG, and we kicked around the possibility of working together on an installfest perhaps in mid-to-late January, so keep an eye out for updates in that area!

If you were there (or have heard about it from those who were), it would be helpful to hear what your thoughts were - things that were good about the event, things that we should consider doing differently next time, or even general ideas of things we should think about doing as a team, please be sure to share them!

By the way, many thanks to the University of Minnesota ACM student chapter for donating their time and access to get us a great room on campus to host the event.

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18 Oct 2007 (updated 18 Oct 2007 at 11:53 UTC) »

Well, that time has finally come, and the latest release of Ubuntu, version 7.10, codenamed “Gutsy Gibbon” is finally out, officially, for real, as certified personally by members of the release team on IRC! Please use bittorrent to download it if possible, as the server load is immense (as you can imagine). Detailed torrent info with hashes is available here.

Now, while everyone is downloading, installing, seeding, and being giddy, I’d like to take a moment to point out the new features that interest me personally. This is of course no indication of which ones are most important, nor a comprehensive list - just what I like. :) <h3>Gnome 2.20 Features</h3> <h4>Form filling</h4>

This is pretty huge. The ability to fill out PDF forms is crucial for everything from annual tax filings to immigration applications, and it’s extremely useful to have the default PDF viewer able to do this rather than needing a separate application. <h4>Synchronized notes</h4>

I’ve been trying to get in the habit of using Tomboy to keep track of things. It’s taking some getting used to, since I’ve been doing a lot of random Post-Its on the desk more, but it’s nice. Now that I actually use Ubuntu in multiple places (home and school), being able to share those notes will be pretty handy. <h4>Keyring unlocking</h4>

The NetworkManager bug where it has to ask for the gnome-keyring password on login has long been one of my pet peeves. From the description, it sounds like this release will be able to finally solve that problem (or at least make if very easy to fix on individual machines). Additionally, having all of the different kinds of passwords in one location (Seahorse) is nice and sane. <h4>Help browser</h4>

Probably the biggest thing here for me is the speed aspect. I’ve always kind of wondered why yelp was a bit on the laggy side, and this will be a nice change. The theming thing is cool too, but I haven’t decided yet how important that is to me here. <h4>Screensaver messages</h4>

Okay, I’m honestly not sure how much use I’ll get out of this feature myself, since I’m the only user of my machine and in a home environment, but it’s still very cool. The biggest thing I see this being useful for is corporate environments, where people may be out of their cubicle for a few minutes and a co-worker just needs to leave a quick note. One less scrap of paper to clutter the desk with. <h3>Ubuntu Features</h3> <h4>Fast user switching</h4>

Great for situations such as home users where someone might need to get on every half hour to check something for a research paper, but doesn’t want to disturb a family member doing other work for too long each time. <h4>Graphical X configuration</h4>

Another long-standing wishlist item. Just another essential step in making Linux more accessible to the less technical user, who shouldn’t need to resort to command-line config file editing for anything. <h4>Fully automatic printer installation</h4>

Okay, I honestly don’t have the foggiest clue how they managed to pull this one off. Regardless though, I certainly can’t argue that it is very very slick. Someone feel free to enlighten me on IRC sometime about how this works. <h4>NTFS writing</h4>

Another basic must-have for anyone dual-booting with a Windows machine. It’s highly unfortunate that the community had to spend lots of valuable time reverse-engineering a filesystem just so users could access their data, but that’s what you have to deal with when companies like Microsoft insist on using closed-spec nonsense that doesn’t work with anything. <h4>Encrypted hard disks in installer</h4>

Another long-standing wishlist item. While it’s long been possible to create encrypted partitions, it took more work than it should. With the version of debian-installer from Etch, they’re now supported right off the bat in the installation process (alternate CD only). This is handy for corporate users who have to be worried about company proprietary information, or anyone who doesn’t particularly like the idea of the government seizing their laptop and sifting through all of their data. <h4>Expanded automatic server options</h4>

No matter how you slice it, this is just nifty. Now I can get my web, file, and print server set up by just checking boxes, without getting any of the stuff I don’t need. It’s nice to see the ease and usability Ubuntu is known for on the desktop extending into the server market too.

So, get it and check it out for yourself!

Remember, if you’re in Minnesota, join us at our release party on Saturday. We can provide you with a CD at that time if you’d like as well.

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I am pleased to announce the final details for the Ubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon” release party for Minnesota! We will be meeting this Saturday, October 20<sup>th</sup> 2007, 7:00 - 9:30 PM. The location is room # 3-111 of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building, 200 Union St. SE, Minneapolis, on the University of Minnesota campus (courtesy of the U of M student chapter of the ACM). If you need help getting there, see this map.

Not sure what a release party is, or why you should go? Well, ours will be a loosely structured social event with a few key aspects:

  • Meet other people from the Ubuntu Minnesota Team
  • Learn about Ubuntu and free software, what it can do for you, and why you should consider using it
  • See the slick new features of Ubuntu 7.10 on a big screen (we’ll have a digital projector)
  • Learn about the Ubuntu community and its processes, including how to get involved in development for university students who need to do software development projects
  • Hang out and have fun

Whether you’ve been using Ubuntu for years, just installed it for the first time, or have never even heard of it but are curious about free open-source software, we’d love to have you swing on by and help answer your questions! See you Saturday!

Any questions about the event can be left as comments on this post, or sent to our team’s mailing list.

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So by now everybody has heard of the countdown script for the Ubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon” release. However, when I added it to my blog, I realized that the brown that gathers so much attention generally didn’t look that great next to the color I’m using at the moment for my blog theme. Matt and Gerry at Canonical kinda told me that people are free to modify and redistribute it as they see fit, so I can make it fit in better now. I also want to thank ader10 from #ubuntu-offtopic who helped with with Gimp tricks. You’ll see the result at the top of the sidebar on the right-hand side of my blog.

So, how can you do it yourself you ask? Well, first you’ll need to grab a copy of the images for modification. You can use the following script to do so; you will just need to create or download it to the directory you want the images to end up in, make it executable, and run it.

<span style="color: #808080; font-style: italic;">#!/bin/sh</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">max=</span><span style="color: #000000;">22</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">day=</span><span style="color: #007800;">$max</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">end=</span><span style="color: #000000;">0</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">jsfile=</span><span style="color: #ff0000;">"http://www.ubuntu.com/files/countdown/dist/display.js"</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">default=</span><span style="color: #ff0000;">"http://www.ubuntu.com/files/countdown/dist/710countdown_default.png"</span>
<span style="color: #007800;">base=</span><span style="color: #ff0000;">"http://www.ubuntu.com/files/countdown/dist/"</span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-weight: bold;">while</span> <span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">[</span> <span style="color: #ff0000;">"$day"</span> -ge <span style="color: #ff0000;">"$end"</span> <span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">]</span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-weight: bold;">do</span>
	<span style="color: #007800;">url=</span><span style="color: #007800;">$base</span><span style="color: #ff0000;">"710countdown_"</span><span style="color: #007800;">$day</span><span style="color: #ff0000;">"days.png"</span>
	<span style="color: #c20cb9; font-weight: bold;">wget</span> -q -nc <span style="color: #007800;">$url</span>
	<span style="color: #007800;">day=</span>$<span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">(</span><span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">(</span><span style="color: #007800;">$day</span> - <span style="color: #000000;">1</span><span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">)</span><span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">)</span>
<span style="color: #000000; font-weight: bold;">done</span>
<span style="color: #c20cb9; font-weight: bold;">wget</span> -q -nc <span style="color: #007800;">$default</span>
<span style="color: #c20cb9; font-weight: bold;">wget</span> -q -nc <span style="color: #007800;">$jsfile</span>
<span style="color: #7a0874; font-weight: bold;">exit</span> <span style="color: #000000;">0</span>

Once you have the image, you’ll probably want to change the background color primarily - at least that’s all I did. Here’s the process for doing that in Gimp:

  1. Open one of the the numbered images in Gimp.
  2. Convert the image to RGB, via Image > Mode > RGB in the menu.
  3. Select the “Magic Wand” tool from the utilities panel (”Select continuous regions”, also activated by “Z”), and ensure that it’s using the default settings of Mode:Replace, Antialiasing:Checked, Feather edges:Unchecked, Select transparent areas:Checked, Sample merged:Unchecked, Threshold:15.0.
  4. Click somewhere near the top of the image within the brown background region.
  5. Shift click on another part of the brown right next to the selected area from the previous step, but not yet included.
  6. Repeat step 5 until all of the background is selected. Note that you will need to do the areas inside of closed letters such as “b”, “o”, and “0″ separately.
  7. Open the “Change Foreground Colour” dialogue, and choose the color you would like to base your new gradient off of. It may be useful to skim through your stylesheet for the hexadecimal value if you’re just trying to match a colour you’ve already deployed on your web site. When you have one you like selected, hit OK.
  8. Open the “Layers” dialogue, via Dialogues > Layers.
  9. Create a new layer from your selection (it’s the icon of a page with a yellow star). Give it some sensible name of your choice. Leave the other options as they are and click OK.
  10. With your new layer still selected in the layers dialogue, press Ctrl-, (control and comma at the same time). This will fill in your color.
  11. In the layers dialogue, select “Colour” from the Mode dropdown menu (rather than the default, “Normal”).
  12. Save your image.
  13. Leaving that image and the layers dialogue open, open another one of the numbered images.
  14. Repeat step 2.
  15. Mouse over the first (completed) image to draw focus to its layers.
  16. Drag your created layer (look for the name you gave it in the list) onto the new image and drop. It should fill in the colour and gradient style for you.
  17. Save and close the second image.
  18. Repeat steps 13-17 for the remainder of the numbered images.
  19. Open the default (unnumbered) image.
  20. Repeat steps 2-12 on this one.
  21. Close all of your images and exit Gimp.
  22. Open display.js
  23. Change the base variable to match where you will be placing these items on your web site directory structure.
  24. If you changed the names of the images, edit the src line appropriately as well.
  25. Save this file and close.
  26. Upload all of the images (*.png) and the modified display.js file to your web server in the path you specified for ‘base’.
  27. Add the code snippet like you see on http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/countdown to the appropriate part of your web page code, but replacing “http://www.ubuntu.com/files/countdown/dist/” with the path you used for ‘base’ in both instances.

You’re all set! You could of course change other colours and things as well, but I’m guessing just the background will be the most common customization.

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So, I had been thinking perhaps we’d see it sometime this winter. Maybe next spring/summer at the latest. What I hadn’t expected was dollar parity already in September! What am I talking about? Well, turns out the Canadian Dollar surged past the US greenback in value earlier this morning. It settled down slightly after that, but is still trading at 0.999102 CDN per USD at the time of this writing.

Possibly most entertainingly, Bush commented in a news conference that he thought the US economy was still strong and healthy. Sometimes I wonder which leader in the “war on terror” spends more time in caves.

On to the links:
$1 Cdn = $1 US (CBC)
Canadian dollar hits parity with greenback (CTV)
Canadian Dollar Trades Equal to U.S for First Time Since 1976 (Bloomberg)

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Today we set a time for our very first formal Minnesota LoCo meeting. It will be held this Thursday, 20 September 2007, at 16:00-18:00 CDT (4-6 PM locally, in the UCT-5 timezone). The meeting will be held online, in the #ubuntu-minnesota IRC channel on the Freenode network. The agenda for topics of discussion is at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MinnesotaTeam/MeetingAgenda, and should be considered a work in progress which Minnesotans are free to edit up until the meeting if they have any points they would like to add. Note that this is a public meeting, so anybody is welcome to attend and participate (ie, you don’t need to be an official member on Launchpad, etc.). Logs will be made available afterwards as well.

For those who are not yet familiar with IRC, take a look at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/InternetRelayChat for a start, or ask for help on the mailing list.

Hope to see all Ubuntu-using and curious Minnesotans there!

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I discovered a few hours ago that my key passphrase wasn’t working. At first I thought I had simply forgotten it, but remembered that I type it in every time I send an e-mail (Enigmail in TB), so that is highly unlikely. However, I did have a system freeze earlier, and had to do a hard shutdown (blame ATI, enough said). My current guess is that in that process my secret key became corrupted. What I would like to know is, does anybody know a way to restore my ~/.gnupg directory to its status as of yesterday? My /home directory is on an ext3 filesystem on LVM, btw, so there should be a journal that can be played with, but I’m not sure how to manually mess with that. I saw some computer forensics tools in the repos, but have no idea how to use them. I have already tried doing a fsck, both the one automatically done on the boot after failure and a second with ’sudo touch /forcefsck’ and a proper reboot.

If all else fails, I did create a .asc file prior, which I believe is what I need to revoke it if necessary. I would of course like to avoid this if at all possible, as I did have a small handful of full-trust signatures from a keysigning meetup that would likely be hard to redo. I’m on a bit of a schedule too, since I found out it wasn’t working when I tried to build a package - rotten luck that.

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My laptop came with a built-in winmodem, and since at the time that I first installed Ubuntu I only had access to a dial-up internet connection, I of course needed that. However, it didn’t work out of the box (this was Hoary). After quite a bit of very confused e-mailing, Google, and such (I didn’t even know what a winmodem was/meant), I found a solution that worked from Linuxant. (I’d like to thank the Linmodems mailing list for this.) Anyways, getting to the point, I just noticed a small snippet in Issue 51 of the UWN indicating that there was a driver package available from Dell now as well. For more information on that, check out this post on the Direct2Dell blog. I’m not 100% sure, but it appears that this is the same driver, except now available for free. Note that it is still not free, in terms that it is not open-source, but at least now perhaps there is an option that doesn’t cost $20. I have not yet tested this package on my system, but plan to.

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For a long time I have been frustrated by the fact that Supybot’s RSS plugin only supported RSS feeds, and not ATOM as well, as some of my friends’ blogs only offer the ATOM format. I did some Googling, and discovered a workaround involving substituting feedparser for rssparser in the plugin.py. However, I now have a new error, which there is a fair bit of mention about on the internet, but little in the way of solutions. It seems to affect anything python-related (MoinMoin, Supybot, Plone, etc.), and involves the translation of ASCII and UTF-8 character encodings. As I’m not very knowledgeable in this area, I would very much appreciated whatever information and/or fixes you can offer. Here’s my log output:

INFO 2007-08-20T01:52:19 rss planetubuntu called by
ERROR 2007-08-20T01:52:19 Uncaught exception in [’rss’, ‘planetubuntu’].
Traceback (most recent call last):
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/callbacks.py”, line 1170, in _callCommand
self.callCommand(command, irc, msg, *args, **kwargs)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/utils/python.py”, line 62, in g
f(self, *args, **kwargs)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/callbacks.py”, line 1156, in callCommand
method(irc, msg, *args, **kwargs)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/plugins/RSS/plugin.py”, line 294, in f
self.rss(irc, msg, args)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/commands.py”, line 906, in newf
f(self, irc, msg, args, *state.args, **state.kwargs)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/plugins/RSS/plugin.py”, line 383, in rss
headlines = self.buildHeadlines(headlines, channel, ’showLinks’)
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/plugins/RSS/plugin.py”, line 142, in buildHeadlines
newheadlines.append(format(’%s %u’, *headline))
File “/var/lib/python-support/python2.5/supybot/utils/str.py”, line 430, in format
return _formatRe.sub(sub, s)
UnicodeDecodeError: ‘ascii’ codec can’t decode byte 0xe2 in position 21: ordinal not in range(128)
ERROR 2007-08-20T01:52:19 Exception id: 0xe9e69

(Note: this is using http://planet.ubuntu.com/rss20.xml as the feed URL, and worked with the old rssparser. A number of other feeds are affected as well, including the individual site feeds of Hobbsee, ryanakca, johnc4510, jnthnjng, and LaserJock.)

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