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Links 17/02/2023: More Linux Phones and GNU Lightning 2.2.1

  • GNU/Linux

  • Distributions and Operating Systems

    • BSD

      • Bryan LundukeFunny BSD Pictures

        AKA Funny Programming Pictures Part XXIV

      • UbuntubuzzhelloSystem: A New, Promising Macintosh-like Free Desktop OS

        helloSystem is a completely new desktop operating system based on FreeBSD. It is created by the founder of AppImage technology for GNU/Linux, Simon Peter, a software developer from Germany. Its look and feel mostly designed to be like MacOS but ten times simpler. The application packages are also bundles too similar to AppImages we often use on Ubuntu. We are fans of AppImage and we would love to try out the helloSystem even though now it's still in alpha development stage. A good news for everyone is that it is Free/Libre Open Source Software and the project allows everyone to participate in the development. You can read the rest of our little adventure in this article. Happy reading!

    • Fedora Family / IBM

      • Tomasz Torcz: Migrated home server to the UEFI boot

        I've migrated my home server to boot using UEFI. It means suprising number of things:

        • I did something useful during my unplanned PTO days [...]

        • [...]I can unsubscribe from BIOS Boot SIG, as this was my last legacy-booting computer. The SIG mailing list is completely empty, apparently all the ruckus with needing BIOS booting within Fedora has no real standing.

      • Fedora ProjectFedora Community Blog: CPE Weekly Update – Week 7 2023

        This is a weekly report from the CPE (Community Platform Engineering) Team. If you have any questions or feedback, please respond to this report or contact us on #redhat-cpe channel on

        We provide you both infographics and text versions of the weekly report. If you just want to quickly look at what we did, just look at the infographic. If you are interested in more in-depth details look at the infographic.

      • Fedora ProjectFedora Community Blog: Friday’s Fedora Facts: 2023-07

        Here’s your weekly Fedora report. Read what happened this week and what’s coming up. Your contributions are welcome (see the end of the post)!

        I have weekly office hours most Wednesdays in the morning and afternoon (US/Eastern time). Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else. See the upcoming meetings for more information.

      • Fedora MagazineFedora Magazine: Working with Btrfs – Compression

        This article will explore transparent filesystem compression in Btrfs and how it can help with saving storage space. This is part of a series that takes a closer look at Btrfs, the default filesystem for Fedora Workstation, and Fedora Silverblue since Fedora Linux 33.

        In case you missed it, here’s the previous article from this series:


        • Not all files compress equally well. Modern multimedia formats such as images or movies compress their contents already and don’t compress well beyond that.
        • The script performs each compression and decompression exactly once. Running it repeatedly on the same input file will generate slightly different outputs. Hence, the times should be understood as estimates, rather than an exact measurement.

        Given the numbers in my output, I decided to use the zstd compression algorithm with compression level 3 on my systems. Depending on your needs, you may want to choose higher compression levels (for example, if your storage devices are comparatively slow). To get an estimate of the achievable read/write speeds, you can divide the source archives size (about 260 MB) by the (de)compression times.



        This article detailed transparent filesystem compression in Btrfs. It is a built-in, comparatively cheap, way to get some extra storage space out of existing hardware without needing modifications.

    • Debian Family

      • Gunnar WolfGunnar Wolf: We are GREAT at handling multimedia!

        I have mentioned several times in this blog, as well as by other communication means, that I am very happy with the laptop I bought (used) about a year and a half ago: an ARM-based Lenovo Yoga C630.

        Yes, I knew from the very beginning that using this laptop would pose a challenge to me in many ways, as full hardware support for ARM laptops are nowhere as easy as for plain boring x86 systems. But the advantages far outweigh the inconvenience (i.e. the hoops I had to jump through to handle video-out when I started teaching presentially, which are fortunately a thing of the past now).

        Anyway — This post is not about my laptop.

        Back in 2018, I was honored to be appointed as a member of the Debian Technical Committee. Of course, that meant (due to the very clear and clever point of the Debian Constitution that my tenure in the Committee (as well as Niko Tyni’s) finished in January 1, 2023. We were invited to take part of a Jitsi call as a last meeting, as well as to welcome Matthew Garrett to the Committee.

        Of course, I arranged so I would be calling from my desktop system at work (for which I have an old, terrible webcam — but as long as I don’t need to control screen sharing too finely, mostly works). Out of eight people in the call, two had complete or quite crippling failures with their multimedia setup, and one had a frozen image (at least as far as I could tell).

      • Enrico Zini: Monitoring a heart rate monitor

        I bought myself a cheap wearable Bluetooth LE heart rate monitor in order to play with it, and this is a simple Python script to monitor it and plot data.


        Things I learnt:

      • Jonathan McDowell: First impressions of the VisionFive 2

        Back in September last year I chose to back the StarFive VisionFive 2 on Kickstarter. I don’t have a particular use in mind for it, but I felt it was one of the first RISC-V systems that were relatively capable (mentally I have it as somewhere between a Raspberry Pi 3 + a Pi 4). In particular it’s a quad 1.5GHz 64-bit RISC-V core with 8G RAM, USB3, GigE ethernet and a single M.2 PCIe slot. More than ample as a personal machine for playing around with RISC-V and doing local builds. I ended up paying €£67 for the Early Bird variant (dual GigE ethernet rather than 1 x 100Mb and 1 x GigE). A couple of weeks ago I got an email with a tracking number and last week it finally turned up.

        Being impatient the first thing I did was plug it into a monitor, connect up a keyboard, and power it on. Nothing except some flashing lights. Looking at the boot selector DIP switches suggested it was configured to boot from UART, so I flipped them to (what I thought was) the flash setting. It wasn’t - turns out the “ON” marking on the switches represents logic 0 and it was correctly setup when I got it. I went to read the documentation which talked about writing an image to a MicroSD card, but also had details of the UART connection. Wanting to make sure the device was at least doing something before I actually tried an OS on it I hooked up a USB/serial dongle and powered the board up again. Success! U-Boot appeared and I could interact with it.

    • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

      • OMG UbuntuGet Horizontal OSD for Brightness & Volume Changes on Linux Mint

        The “Horizontal OSD” extension for Linux Mint (yes, Linux Mint has extensions too) reformats Cinnamon’s default volume and screen brightness indicators from a vertical box to a horizontal bar. It’s a subtle tweak that I think gives the Cinnamon desktop an extra splash of modernity (GNOME Shell switched its OSD from boxes to bars last year).

        While the look of the horizontal OSD blends in perfectly with the rest of the Linux Mint’s default look (meaning out of the box it looks totally native) you do get ample controls to adjust the appearance.

      • Salih Emin: ucaresystem core 4.4.0 : Now published for Ubuntu Kinetik and Lunar

        The new release of ucaresystem core is released and available for Ubuntu Kinetik (22.10) and Ubuntu Lunar (23.04) The all time classic uCareSystem is now release for Ubuntu Kinetik (22.10) and Ubuntu Lunar (23.04).

    • Mobile Systems/Mobile Applications

      • Giz ChinaNo Android or iOS: Here’s a new Phone with two operating systems

        Hallo Welt Systeme, a German company that specializes in developing open-source technology, has recently launched a new addition to their Volla Phone line – the Volla Phone X23. This smartphone is the latest smartphone model to not use the Google ecosystem, and it boasts an open-source operating system that offers users more control over their device.

        Customers can choose from two versions of the Volla Phone X23 – one that comes with the Volla OS installed and the other with Ubuntu Touch installed. The device is available for pre-order at a price of 522 euros (about $558). With deliveries scheduled to begin in May 2023. The Volla OS version of the phone is compatible with most Android apps, while Ubuntu Touch is not.

      • LiliputingAuspicious Machine is a modular handheld Linux PC with a BlackBerry-style keyboard and gaming buttons

        The Auspicious Machine is a pocket-sized computer that bears a more than passing resemblance to a classic BlackBerry smartphone thanks to a 3.5 inch, 640 x 480 display positioned above a backlit QWERTY keyboard.

        But this little device isn’t a phone. It’s a modular portable computer with built-in game controller keys and support for GNU/Linux software. It’s up for pre-order in China for RMB 1656 (about $240) and the developer is hoping to begin shipping the Auspicious Machine to customers in June.

  • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

    • Events

      • Brendan GreggBrendan Gregg: USENIX SREcon APAC 2023: CFP

        USENIX's SREcon conference is the best venue for learning the latest in systems engineering (not just site reliability engineering) and if you have useful production stories and takeaways to share -- especially if you are in the Asia/Pacific region -- please consider submitting a talk proposal to [SREcon APAC 2023]. The [call for participation] ends on March 2nd, only two weeks away. It is held this year in Singapore, June 14-16, and I'm excited to be program co-chair with fellow Aussie [Jamie Wilkinson]. To quote from our CFP:

        You build computer platforms, debug them, and support them, and you have learned something useful to share: You are invited to submit proposals to give talks at SREcon23 Asia/Pacific, which welcomes speakers from a variety of backgrounds, not just SRE, and from a variety of different-sized companies, not just those that are technology-focused. Your insights will help create a relevant, diverse, and inclusive program. Conversations are never complete when they focus just on successes; we encourage talks that focus on lessons learned from failures or hard problems.

        At the seventh SREcon Asia/Pacific, we are especially seeking the deepest engineering talks: Those that cover gritty technical internals, advanced tools and techniques, and complex problems that may matter to others, whether your solutions were elegant, ugly, or unsuccessful.

        We look forward to learning from speakers across the SRE and systems engineering space. This year we particularly welcome new speakers; many of our best talks have come from people with new perspectives to share and the last few years most certainly has given us all new experiences and stories we can share and from which we can learn.

        At every SREcon globally, we welcome and encourage participation from all individuals in any country, including people that are underrepresented in, or excluded from, technology, including but not limited to: people of all colours, women, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, neurodiverse participants, students, veterans, and others with unique characteristics.

        Similarly, we welcome participants from diverse professional roles: QA testers, performance engineers, security teams, OS engineers, DBAs, network administrators, compliance experts, UX designers, government employees, and data scientists. Regardless of who you are or the job title you hold, if you are a technologist who faces unique challenges and shares our areas of interest, we encourage you to be a part of SREcon23 Asia/Pacific.

    • Web Browsers/Web Servers

      • Mozilla

        • Mike Hoye: Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions

          Over on Mastodon I asked: “What modern utilities should be a standard part of a modern unixy distro? Why? I’ve got jq, pandoc, tldr and a few others on my list, but I’d love to know others.”

          Here’s what came back; I’ve roughly grouped them into two categories: new utilities and improvements on the classics.

          In no particular order, the new kids on the block: [...]


          So, there you go. Life in the terminal is still improving here in 2023, it’s great to see.

        • Spidermonkey Development Blog: SpiderMonkey Newsletter (Firefox 110-111)

          SpiderMonkey is the JavaScript engine used in Mozilla Firefox. This newsletter gives an overview of the JavaScript and WebAssembly work we’ve done as part of the Firefox 110 and 111 Nightly release cycles.

    • FSF

    • GNU Projects

      • GNUlightning @ Savannah: GNU lightning 2.2.1 release

        GNU lightning is a library to aid in making portable programs
        that compile assembly code at run time.


        Download release:

        €  GNU Lightning 2.2.1 main new features:

        • Variable stack framesize implemented for aarch64, arm, i686, mips, riscv, loongarch and x86_64. This means function calls use only the minimum required stack space for prolog and epilog.
        • Optimization of prolog and epilog to not create a frame pointer if not required, and not even save and restore the stack pointer if not required on a leaf function. These features implemented for the ports with variable stack framesize.
        • New clor, czr, ctor and ctzr instructions, that count leading/trailing zeros/ones. These use hardware implementation when available, otherwise fallback to a software implementation.
        • Correct several bugs with jit_arg_register_p and jit_putarg{r,i}{_f,_d}. These bugs were not noticed earlier due to an incorrect check for correctness in check/carg.c.
        • Add rip relative addressing support for x86_64 and shorter signed 64 bit constant load if the constant fits in a signed 32 bit integer. This significantly reduces code size generation.
        • Correct bugs in branch generation code for pppc and sparc.
        • Correct bug in signed 32 bit integer load in ppc 64 bits.
        • Add short relative unconditional branches and calls to mips, reducing code size generation.
        • And several extra minor optimizations.
    • Programming/Development

      • Python

        • Linux HintPython Check If String Contains Substring From List

          To check if the string contains substring from the Python list, the “list comprehension”, the “any()” method, and the iterative function “for” loop is used.

        • Linux HintDivide Two Columns Pandas

          To divide two columns Pandas in the Python, the “/” divide operator, “div()” methods, and “np.where()” methods can be used.

        • Linux HintConvert 1d Array to 2d Array Python

          To convert a one-dimensional array into a two-dimensional array, the “reshape()” method, “np.reshape()” method and “np.arange()” method can be used.

        • Linux HintRemove Number From String Python

          To remove the number from the string in Python, the “join()” and “isdigit()” methods, “translate()”, “filter()”, and “sub()” methods are used.

        • Linux HintHow Do You Repeat a String n Times in Python?

          To repeat a string “n” times in Python, the repetition “*” operator, “for” loop an iterative function, and user-defined function can be used.

        • Linux HintHow to Initialize a Dictionary in Python

          To initialize the dictionary, “fromkey()”, “defaultdict()”, “setdefault()”, “dict()”, “zip()”, passing arguments, and curley “{}” braces techniques are used.

        • Linux HintDatetime Get Previous Month Python

          To get previous month's datetime in Python, the “datetime” module with “replace()” method and “datetime” module using the extension “dd” techniques can be used.

        • Linux HintInitialize 2D List in Python

          To initialize the 2d list in Python, the “range()” method and “numpy.full()” method with the “tolist()” method are used.

        • Linux HintRemove Quotes From String Python

          To remove the quotes from any Python string, the “for” Loop, the “replace()”, “re.sub()”, “strip()”, “Istrip()” and “rstrip()” methods are used.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • Manuel MatuzovicWhy I'm not the biggest fan of Single Page Applications - Manuel Matuzović

        Sometimes it seems like accessibility experts and other web professionals hate JavaScript. This might be true for some, but most understand that JavaScript can be useful for improving UX and even accessibility. JavaScript solutions are often more accessible than their pure HTML or CSS counterparts.

      • Jussi PakkanenJussi Pakkanen: PDF output in images

        Generating PDF files is mostly (but not entirely) a serialization problem where you keep repeating the following loop:

        • Find out what functionality PDF has
        • Read the specification to find out how it is expressed using PDF document syntax
        • Come up with some sort of an API to express same
        • Serialize the latter into the former
        • Debug

        This means that you have to spend a fair bit of time without much to show for it apart from documents with various black boxes in them. However once you have enough foundational code, then suddenly you can generate all sorts of fun images. Let's look at some now.

  • Leftovers

  • Gemini* and Gopher

    • Technical

      • Thinking About Playing SOMA Again

        I should try finishingS SOMA (2015). I really adore the story and the general atmosphere of it; but it's the only game I stopped playing because it scared me too much. It's very well executed but the scariness isn't exclusively because of that, it's more the weird biomechanical creatures and the philosophical themes of the game.

        I very rarely get scared of horror media, mostly because 99.9999999% of it is absolutely awful and horribly done. Like the “old people or children doing something really w€ e€ i€ r€ d and c€ r€ a€ z€ y” trope that scares ~stupid babies~ apparently literally everyone other than me. But even the well-done media, weird psychological stuff can make me introspective but rarely actually scared; I don't find machines particularly scary, they're at most intimidating because they're arbitrarily stronger than you; and biological monsters I typically have the opposite reaction the designers expected.

      • Sorbet G4: Hints for working with X11

        X11 is quite outdated on Mac OS X. Even on current "macOS" versions it is still difficult to work with xorg applications of a linux hosts. The problem is, that current linux applications want stuff the Mac OS X version doesn't implement like XInput 2. If you just work with Terminology or Leafpad (...) it's not a problem. But what if you want to use for example a modern Terminal or KeePassXC? Than you have to go with Xepyhr. It's a nexted X server that runs inside a window of X11 on Mac OS X; basically a X server in another X server. It is really slow to use. You will see the frames. But with it you can use every X application the linux host - your Zero inside your G4 ;) - has to offer.

      • feeds are a dark pattern

        I'm glad to see the current wave of non-corporate social media. I'm also disappointed to see how most of them copy the worst feature of corporate ones - the feed. I know this might sound weird, especially if you haven't tried out anything else - but bear with me.

        One of the issues with feeds is how they (don't) handle the conflict between frequent vs. rare posters. Their posts are all mixed together. The only way to ensure that you've seen the posts from the latter is to try to scroll down as much as possible each time - which gets addictive. The alternative is to just take short peeks of the feed - seeing posts only from a small minority of the people you follow. Neither is ideal. And, if you've only tried feed-based social media, you might think that the tradeoff between time spent on the platform and missed posts is unavoidable. It isn't.

        Around 2 years ago, I made an experimental Mastodon client. Instead of a feed, it presented you with a page per each day, each with a list of people who posted on that day. You could expand out everyone's posts - but everything started out collapsed. You saw everyone at a glance. If any of your rarely posting friends posted something, you could prioritise them. Otherwise, you could browse the usual shitposting of your fedi-addicted friends.

* Gemini (Primer) links can be opened using Gemini software. It's like the World Wide Web but a lot lighter.

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