CoC Extremism Has Cost Debian (and Its Derivatives) the Main KDE Maintainer

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, KDE at 2:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LaTeX and many other packages as well (orphaned due to people who don't even code)

As already mentioned in some comments to various blog posts here, I will not invest more work into the current repositories. I invite anyone with interest in continuing the work to contact me. I will also write up a short howto guide on what I generally did and how I worked with this amount of packages. I feel sad about leaving this behind, but also relieved from the amount of work, not to speak of the insults (“You are a Nazi” etc) I often get from the Debian side. I also feel sorry for all of you who have relied on these packages for long time, have given valuable feedback and helpful comments.

Summary: As explained here many times before [1, 2, 3], people who contribute nothing (or very little, a minuscule/negligible amount) are driving out some of the most active and most important contributors; this leaves users in a tough place (maintainership waning)


Browse the Web With Falkon (Cross-Platform)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, KDE at 9:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 96ab92dce699e9dd0e60e96f326d3115
Falkon Browser Has Gotten Better
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Latest Falkon in latest KDE Neon (the latest Plasma with latest Falkon, a Web browser which is part of KDE) demonstrated in video, which focuses on configuration in order to highlight newer functionality

TWO days ago I updated KDE Neon to the latest version, knowing that KDE Plasma had made a release. KDE Neon usually contains the very latest of everything, so it’s useful for demonstrating upcoming features in GNU/Linux.

“Falkon is not a company and it won’t collect data about the user.”Today we take a look at the latest Falkon. This browser was covered here almost 2 years ago (in Debian 10), but it has matured a lot since. The above shows how Falkon can be configured to fool stubborn sites into thinking you’re in fact using some other Web browser (so that they let the visitor through). To quote IRC from two days ago, Ryan “learned that you have to be very careful with the User Agent. Get one thing wrong and Cloudflare sites stop working because they don’t know what your browser is. This is horrible. You shouldn’t even have to lie about your User Agent, but if you do, it has to at least be some take on Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.”

In practice, just about every Web site works OK with Falkon. Some need to be given a false User Agent, but in Falkon that’s easy to configure and the functionality is built in. Ad blocking is also built in and highly effective. Falkon is not a company and it won’t collect data about the user.


Night Colour in KDE: Small New Feature, Potentially Valuable in This ‘Crisis Mode’ Era

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE at 9:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 2a337fd2dd58bd8021c8db928783306b
KDE’s Night Colour Mode
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: KDE has made it easier to change contrast/brightness/colours overnight; the above video shows all the existing options (available in experimental builds)

THESE days it has become fashionable to discuss how to lessen the burden of bills. Here in the UK, for instance, lowering brightness on a monitor can save quite a few pounds per month (certainly when dealing with multiple monitors; here we have 11). Powering them off is an option, but not when you actually wish to use them.

“This will probably roll out to more KDE/Plasma-based distros, turned on by default (or available in the panel by default), over time.”Months ago I started turning off the monitors whilst away from keyboard (afk) in order to save energy — or rather to lower our power bills. Working at night when there’s sufficient contrast (ambiance late at night) is very common for home workers. There’s some science regarding nocturnal computer work and the brightness impacts sleepiness (or potentially one’s health). I’ve long been reading about all those colour shifts, but usually those aren’t built into the desktop environment — until now!

The above shows KDE’s (Plasma) implementation, which can be found lurking around in recent builds of KDE Neon.

It should be noted, as a post-mortem-ish, upon recording and after recording I realised that screen capture in OBS does not capture the colour shifts, but that’s OK. It’s mostly about demonstrating the existing options and controls. These will probably evolve over time. Unlike some other new features or changes, in this one I’ve not found any bugs yet (nothing fatal anyway). This will probably roll out to more KDE/Plasma-based distros, turned on by default (or available in the panel by default), over time.


Dear KDE, Please Don’t Become Another GNOME

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE at 4:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 2d32b4df0b6b874da5ee9bc90e2eddfe
KDE Neon and Latest of Plasma
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Judging by what I’m seeing this week in KDE Neon (a sort of testbed or workbench for KDE development), there’s an overhaul in the window- and application-specific settings/customisations; it does not appear to prioritise functionality but supposed simplicity

THIS week I decided that, following an update and reboot of KDE Neon, I’d re-configure some applications to behave in a unique way, but I was greeted by a new and unfamiliar GUI. Not only did it not work as expected; I did not find it intuitive and it resulted in several crashes.

“KDE is for advanced users, but it’s also suitable for rookies and novices.”I totally know what KDE Neon is and recognise what it’s for. I knew it when I installed it, so my complaint isn’t about stability. It’s the interface, which at the moment seems half-baked (semi-cooked) and in no way resembles what KDE3, KDE4 and KDE5 have had. It’s looking like an attempt to over-simplify things or copy GNOME, which in turn tries to imitate some stuff from Apple.

KDE is for advanced users, but it’s also suitable for rookies and novices. Quite a few people in my family use KDE, and they use it out of choice. Gone are the days of KDE being just “by developers, for developers”, but some of these recent changes (in a test distro, KDE Neon) seems not to work, not be made intuitive enough, and feel like work in progress. The video above explains more.


Plasma/Neon, Discover, Flatpak, and Geopard: Close, But No Cigar

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE at 2:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 68fef03872496a85cdaf516f6247c9c2
Installing the Geopard Gemini Client
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: There are more and more options these days for browsing/navigating Geminispace and there’s even a new Gemini client called Geopard; a Flatpak exists for it

THE number of clients for Gemini Protocol keeps increasing. So does the number of such clients (some call them “browsers”) that are prepackaged for GNU/Linux distros. Debian GNU/Linux has several already, so the same goes for Devuan.

The state of installers on GNU/Linux improved a lot. AppImage, Snap, Flatpak are bloat, they’re a shortcut that bypasses complexity associated with “proper” packaging, but do they generally work? Sometimes.

The above demonstrates that installing Gemini clients in GNU/Linux got simpler (Lagrange for example), but packaging things the IBM/Red Hat way leaves much to be desired, as the author of Geopard notes.

In my case, I’ve already installed about 10 different Gemini clients and used more than these. But in the case of Geopard I could not get it to run, only to install. Flatpaks are not just executable that run like ordinary binaries, so debugging this isn’t so simple either. Maybe others will be more lucky, but for now I’m unable to properly review this piece of software.


Copyleft is Still Better and More Suitable for Business

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL, KDE, Law at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Copyleft scares Microsoft et al. Don’t let them fool you…

Summary: Copyleft does not mean one cannot make money; it just means proprietary software companies such as Microsoft stand to lose their dying empires, only to be replaced by new businesses that market and support GPL-licensed systems

EARLIER today we mentioned Microsoft’s persistent and ongoing attacks on the GPL (or copyleft) and in the second footnote here “open” core was mentioned. It’s related to openwashing — a term we coined about 14 years ago.

Free software and reciprocal licensing do not contradict commercial interests and profit. It’s possible to sell Free software, Red Hat does this all the same, and IBM still ships RHEL. Alternative business models exist (dual licensing to name one) and support-based operations is how I personally make a living, ‘babysitting’ Free software to ensure it keeps running OK, sometimes deploying and patching too.

The most “successful” FUD campaigns associated Free software and reciprocal licensing with something like “communism”. That’s nonsense and it’s easy to find contradictions in this narrative. Another widespread narrative that’s false is “permissive” versus “restrictive”, where proprietary-friendly gets called something good and sharing is spun as “restriction”. Pure spin!

As an associate explained today, any “explanation [regarding so-called "permissive" licensing] ought to explicitly say “non-reciprocal” somewhere as being the preferred name…”

The “non-reciprocal” licences enable corporate exploitation by those who do not make the software, by selling proprietary software and not giving the changes back.

This helps proprietary software rather than Software Freedom.

Moreover, to quote the associate, “dual licensing is usually used in conjunction with the GPL and other copyleft licences…”

We wrote about dual licensing before, but we mostly focused on openwashing like “open” core (e.g. "Enterprise"). With dual licensing, sometimes the proprietary parts are “lifted” code without attribution (“non-reciprocal”) or simply licence violations. Companies such as Apple only “donate” what they must, i.e. it’s not a donation, it’s them being afraid of getting sued and admonished.

As an associate explains, “with non-reciprocal licenses there is no incentive provided by dual licensing so it is a phenomenon which helps GPL; dual licensing is, either comply with copyleft or pay for a fully proprietary licence instead (details to be negotiated per customer) [...] one more thing about the licensing, the “open core” stuff has often been “crippleware” so that they can use it as bait for a proprietary license that is not proper dual licensing because it is different code; dual licensing means two licences available for the same set of code.”

“Around 20 years ago +/- 5 years there were lots of dual-licensed projects, but MBAs got into many of the projects or sponsor companies and out of blind stupidity driven by ideology-over-money eliminated the GPL from their codebase, switching to any number of non-reciprocal licences; then the money dried up immediately as there was no longer any incentive to pay for a proprietary license if a company wished to take the code proprietary; then the MBAs blamed Open Source for their woes rather than admitting their mind-boggling stupidity and lack of money sense.”

“It’d be hard to track down which projects did that since there is so much noise on the subject and no uniquely-used strings for the lame-ass fulltext searches, and the fanatical devotion that many companies have towards deleting old, but still relevant, documentation.”

Citing this article from 2009 (regarding Qt), the associate notes that “despite the title it was nearly a deathblow for cross-platform development because it almost killed Qt.”

Qt recently lost its best known employee, not so long after he regrettably announced licensing changes that may impact GNU/Linux users and developers [1, 2]. 11 days ago Niccolò Ve did a video to explain the situation:

The gist of the video (it’s a bit long) is that KDE is fine with Qt as is, and moreover there’s no need to port to any other toolkit. There has been unjustified panic, but that’s not to say no issues exist. It’s just a little more complicated than it was before.

Let’s hope KDE finds a way. Qt alienated many developers again. As one commenter (Hontas Farmer) put it: “KDE IS THE BEST DEMONSTRATION OF WHAT QT CAN DO. They’d be killing the golden goose if they screwed kde.”


It’s 2022 and Installing Software in GNU/Linux Has Never Been Easier

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE at 10:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum
Installing Software in KDE Neon
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: GNU/Linux is easy to use and extend; the above demonstrates how new software gets installed, removed, and updated in KDE Neon

THE ability to install Free software of one’s choice without providing credit card details etc. is something Apple and Microsoft can only envy.

“When it comes to managing software packages, GNU/Linux is in some sense better and more robust than what Apple and Microsoft provide.”We in the GNU/Linux world have long enjoyed the freedom to install tens of thousands of packages, only a click or two away. There’s no need for the command line (unless one insists on using it) and even some proprietary software is suitably prepackaged for many distros. There are numerous packaging methods that have made this possible.

The above shows an experimental distro (KDE Neon, which targets enthusiasts wishing to always use the latest and greatest, at risk of instability). I seem to have stress-tested it a little too much, so there was an error when attempting to retrieve previews of new fonts.

When it comes to managing software packages, GNU/Linux is in some sense better and more robust than what Apple and Microsoft provide. It’s also a lot more secure. In some distros it’s already simplified to the level of “app” mentality (like Android and iOS).


Plasma Desktop in Latest KDE Neon (State-of-the-Art Plasma)

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE at 8:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 0a12282785520c3b7a757d579671be03
Plasma Desktop in Latest KDE Neon
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: KDE Neon had a new release this past Thursday; I’ve decided to show what OS I tinker with these days (GNU/Linux at the cutting/bleeding edge)

THE current OS that I use (on the new machine) is KDE Neon. It is a very low end machine, but it copes OK with the best of KDE.

The above video shows some of the newer elements of the current experience/layout of Plasma, which changes every year or at least every month. It is the most versatile and powerful desktop environment out there, but it’s not as intimidating as it was in the late 1990s because advanced options are sheltered away deeper inside menus and windows. Don’t want them? Then don’t use them!

“It is the most versatile and powerful desktop environment out there, but it’s not as intimidating as it was in the late 1990s because advanced options are sheltered away deeper inside menus and windows.”KDE Neon isn’t recommended for production machines (this isn’t my main OS yet), but for those of us who are KDE enthusiasts (I’ve used it since I was a teenager) it’s a potentially fun experience. Not too shockingly I managed to cause Plasma to crash halfway through the video above (it self-recovered). KDE Neon has long been the subject of intrigue because of its unique development and distribution model. You can download it here (the latest release is just 2-3 days old). These live images mean you can test-drive the OS without actually installing it (until you feel confident enough).

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