Linux Journal

KDE Adding Matrix to Its Instant Messaging Infrastructure, E3D Launches New 3D Printing Slicer, digiKam Announces Major 6.0.0 Release, Google to Acquire Alooma and KDE Plasma Bugfix Update 5.15.1 Is Out

17 hours 30 minutes ago

News briefs for February 20, 2019.

KDE announces it's adding Matrix to its instant messaging infrastructure. Matrix "is an open protocol and network for decentralised communication, backed by an open standard and open source reference implementations for servers, clients, client SDKs, bridges, bots and more. It provides all the features you'd expect from a modern chat system: infinite scrollback, file transfer, typing notifications, read receipts, presence, search, push notifications, stickers, VoIP calling and conferencing, etc. It even provides end-to-end encryption (based on Signal's double ratchet algorithm) for when you want some privacy." For more information and how to get started, see the wiki page.

E3D, the UK hot-end manufacturer, has officially launched a beta of its new 3D printing slicer. Make reports that the new slicer named Pathio features 3D offsetting for perfect shells, logical grouped model settings, a good UI and scripting for power users. See the Pathio website to try out the beta.

digiKam 6.0.0 was released recently. This major release follows two years of intensive development and lots of work from students during the Summer of Code. New features include full support of video file management, raw file decoding engine supporting new cameras, simplified web service authentication using OAuth, new export tools and much more. Go here to download.

Google yesterday announced it intends to acquire Alooma, which "helps enterprise companies streamline database migration in the cloud". According to the announcement, "the addition of Alooma, subject to closing conditions, is a natural fit that allows us to offer customers a streamlined, automated migration experience to Google Cloud, and give them access to our full range of database services, from managed open source database offerings to solutions like Cloud Spanner and Cloud Bigtable".

KDE yesterday released a bugfix update to KDE Plasma 5: 5.15.1. This release adds "a month's worth of new translations and fixes from KDE's contributors" to the release announced a little more than one week ago. See the Plasma 5.15.1 changelog for the full list of changes and updates.

News KDE Matrix instant messaging 3D Printing digiKam Google Cloud Alooma Plasma
Jill Franklin

Cat-Proofing Your Screen Locker with Bash

19 hours 14 minutes ago
by Mitch Frazier


I have a computer in my bedroom. I also have cats. Unfortunately, cats and screen lockers don't mix well, particularly at night. To be accurate, it's more a problem with the display power management than the actual screen locking. Here's the way it works: I run a script to "shut the lights off at night" (that is, lock the screen and force the display to power down), and that works great, until one of the cats jumps on the desk and causes the mouse to move and turn the display back on. And the cats don't even have to touch the mouse; the slight movement of the desk is enough to cause the mouse to react. Recently, I'd had enough of it and figured there had to be a way to disable the mouse and "refactor" the script.

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Mitch Frazier

Google Makes Revisions to Avoid Breaking Ad-Blocking Extensions in Chrome, Kali Linux 2019.1 Released, New Version of Cutelyst Is Out, Ubuntu Posts Security Notice for systemd Vulnerability and Applications Open for Outreachy Summer 2019 Internships

1 day 18 hours ago

News briefs for February 19, 2019.

Google rethinks its planned changes to Chrome's extension API that would have broken many ad-blocking extensions. Ars Technica reports that Google has made this revision to "ensure that the current variety of content-blocking extensions is preserved". In addition, "Google maintains that 'It is not, nor has it ever been, our goal to prevent or break content blocking' [emphasis Google's] and says that it will work to update its proposal to address the capability gaps and pain points."

Kali Linux 2019.1 was released yesterday. This is the first release of 2019, bringing the kernel to version 4.19.13. This release fixes many bugs and includes several updated packages. The release announcement notes that "the big marquee update of this release is the update of Metasploit to version 5.0, which is their first major release since version 4.0 came out in 2011." You can download Kali Linux from here.

A new version of the Cutelyst Qt/C++ Web Framework is now available. According to Dantti's Blog, Cutelyst 2.7.0 brings back proper async support and includes a few other new features.

Ubuntu posted a security notice of a new systemd vulnerability yesterday. USN-3891-1 affects the following versions of Ubuntu and its derivatives: Ubuntu 18.10, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. The details: "systemd incorrectly handled certain D-Bus messages. A local unprivileged attacker could exploit this in order to crash the init process, resulting in a system denial-of-service (kernel panic)." See the security notice for instructions on how to update.

Applications for the Outreachy Summer 2019 round of internships is open now to April 2, 2019. The program "provides three-month internships to work in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Interns are paid a stipend of $5,500 and have a $500 travel stipend available to them." Outreachy "expressly invite women (both cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people to apply. We also expressly invite applications from residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, Native American/American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. Anyone who faces under-representation, systemic bias, or discrimination in the technology industry of their country is invited to apply." Visit here for more information on the application process.

News Google Chrome Kali Linux Metasploit Security Cutelyst Ubuntu systemd Outreachy
Jill Franklin

Open Science, Open Source and R

1 day 19 hours ago
by Andy Wills

Free software will save psychology from the Replication Crisis.

"Study reveals that a lot of psychology research really is just 'psycho-babble'".—The Independent.

Psychology changed forever on the August 27, 2015. For the previous four years, the 270 psychologists of the Open Science Collaboration had been quietly re-running 100 published psychology experiments. Now, finally, they were ready to share their findings. The results were shocking. Less than half of the re-run experiments had worked.

When someone tries to re-run an experiment, and it doesn't work, we call this a failure to replicate. Scientists had known about failures to replicate for a while, but it was only quite recently that the extent of the problem became apparent. Now, an almost existential crisis loomed. That crisis even gained a name: the Replication Crisis. Soon, people started asking the same questions about other areas of science. Often, they got similar answers. Only half of results in economics replicated. In pre-clinical cancer studies, it was worse; only 11% replicated.

Open Science

Clearly, something had to be done. One option would have been to conclude that psychology, economics and parts of medicine could not be studied scientifically. Perhaps those parts of the universe were not lawful in any meaningful way? If so, you shouldn't be surprised if two researchers did the same thing and got different results.

Alternatively, perhaps different researchers got different results because they were doing different things. In most cases, it wasn't possible to tell whether you'd run the experiment exactly the same way as the original authors. This was because all you had to go on was the journal article—a short summary of the methods used and results obtained. If you wanted more detail, you could, in theory, request it from the authors. But, we'd already known for a decade that this approach was seriously broken—in about 70% of cases, data requests ended in failure.

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Andy Wills

Debian 9.8 Released, Kernel 5.0-rc7 Is Out, Creative Commons Update on the EU Copyright Changes, Slax 9.8 Available and Mozilla Testing Picture-in-Picture Mode in Firefox

2 days 17 hours ago

News briefs for February 18, 2019.

Debian 9.8 was released over the weekend. This release mostly addresses security issues and bug fixes. See the post for the full list of changes and visit the mirror list to upgrade an existing installation.

Linux kernel 5.0-rc7 was released yesterday. Linus writes "A nice and calm week, with statistics looking normal. Just under half drivers (gpu, networking, input, md, block, sound, ...), with the rest being architecture fixes (arm64, arm, x86, kvm), networking and misc (filesystem etc). Nothing particularly odd stands out, and everything is pretty small. Just the way I like it."

Creative Commons publishes update on the EU copyright changes that the European Parliament will vote on this spring. The final text of Articles 13 and 11 has been changed somewhat, but according to the Creative Commons post, "With Article 13, it's no exaggeration to say that it'll fundamentally change the way people are able to use the internet and share online. And the European copyright changes will affect how copyright develops in the rest of the world. Even with some of the minor improvements to other aspects of the copyright file, it's hard to see how the reform—taken as a whole—will be a net gain except for the most powerful special interests." If you live in Europe, visit for more information and to contact your MEPs before the vote.

Slax 9.8 was released yesterday. This point release updates some of the included packages; it doesn't include new features. To download the new version, go here.

Mozilla has started testing picture-in-picture mode in Firefox Nightly. According to Softpedia News, "the current implementation of picture-in-picture mode in Firefox is very limited, and I expect Mozilla to accelerate work on it as we approach its target release date. No specifics in this regard are available, however." Picture-in-picture mode is already available in other browsers, such as Google Chrome and Vivaldi.

News Debian Security kernel creative commons EU Copyright Law Slax Mozilla Firefox
Jill Franklin

Converting Decimals to Roman Numerals with Bash

2 days 19 hours ago
by Dave Taylor

Decimals to Roman numerals—here we hit all the limitations of Bash shell scripting.

My last few articles have given me a chance to relive my undergraduate computer science degree and code a Roman numeral to decimal converter. It's quite handy when you're watching old movies (when was MCMLVII anyway?), and the basic coding algorithm was reasonably straightforward. (See Dave's "Roman Numerals and Bash" and "More Roman Numerals and Bash".)

The trick with Roman numerals, however, is that it's what's known as a subtractive notation. In other words, it's not a position → value or even symbol → value notation, but a sort of hybrid. MM = 2000, and C = 100, but MMC and MCM are quite different: the former is 2100, and the latter is 1000 + (–100 + 1000) = 1900.

This means that the conversion isn't quite as simple as a mapping table, which makes it a good homework assignment for young comp-sci students!

Let's Write Some Code

In the Roman numeral to decimal conversion, a lot of the key work was done by this simple function:

mapit() { case $1 in I|i) value=1 ;; V|v) value=5 ;; X|x) value=10 ;; L|l) value=50 ;; C|c) value=100 ;; D|d) value=500 ;; M|m) value=1000 ;; * ) echo "Error: Value $1 unknown" >&2 ; exit 2 ;; esac }

You'll need this function to proceed, but as a cascading set of conditional statements. Indeed, in its simple form, you could code a decimal to Roman numeral converter like this:

while [ $decvalue -gt 0 ] ; do if [ $decvalue -gt 1000 ] ; then romanvalue="$romanvalue M" decvalue=$(( $decvalue - 1000 )) elif [ $decvalue -gt 500 ] ; then romanvalue="$romanvalue D" decvalue=$(( $decvalue - 500 )) elif [ $decvalue -gt 100 ] ; then romanvalue="$romanvalue C" decvalue=$(( $decvalue - 100 )) elif [ $decvalue -gt 50 ] ; then romanvalue="$romanvalue L" decvalue=$(( $decvalue - 50 )) elif [ $decvalue -gt 10 ] ; then romanvalue="$romanvalue X" decvalue=$(( $decvalue - 10 )) elif [ $decvalue -gt 5 ] ; then romanvalue="$romanvalue V" decvalue=$(( $decvalue - 5 )) elif [ $decvalue -ge 1 ] ; then romanvalue="$romanvalue I" decvalue=$(( $decvalue - 1 )) fi done

This actually works, though the results are, um, a bit clunky:

$ sh 25 converts to roman numeral X X I I I I I

Or, more overwhelming:

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Dave Taylor

SUSE OpenStack Cloud v9, Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS Released, Happy Birthday Steam for Linux, WebKitGTK v 2.23.90 Released, Future Support of Virtual Desktops Hinted at in Chromium Codebase

5 days 18 hours ago

SUSE OpenStack Cloud version 9 is out with its first release candidate.

After a bit of delay, Canonical just released the released Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS (Bionic Beaver) packaged with a patched 4.18 Linux kernel to address the boot failure bug pushing its release by a week.

Yesterday (Valentine's Day) marked the 6 year anniversary of the release of Steam for Linux. Happy belated birthday Steam for Linux!!!

Just released is WebKitGTK version 2.23.90, adding better GTK integration, support for JPEG2000 and touchpad gestures and more.

A recent code commit to the Chromium codebase may hint to a near future support of virtual desktops; a definite plus for those who tend to run multiple programs all at once.

Petros Koutoupis

elementary 5 "Juno"

5 days 19 hours ago
by Bryan Lunduke

A review of the elementary distribution and an interview with its founders.

In the spring of 2014 (nearly five years ago), I was preparing a regular presentation I give most years—where I look at the bad side (and the good side) of the greater Linux world. As I had done in years prior, I was preparing a graph showing the market share of various Linux distributions changing over time.

But, this year, something was different.

In the span of less than two years, a tiny little Linux distro came out of nowhere to become one of the most watched and talked about systems available. In the blink of an eye, it went from nothing to passing several grand-daddies of Linux flavors that had been around for decades.

This was elementary. Needless to say, it caught my attention.

Figure 1. elementary 5 "Juno"

In the years that followed, I've interviewed elementary's founders on a few occasions—for articles, videos or podcasts—and consistently found their vision, dedication and attitudes rather intriguing.

Then in 2016, I was at a Linux conference—SCaLE (the Southern California Linux Expo). One bright, sunshiny morning, I found myself heading from my hotel room down to the conference floor. On my way, I got it in my head that I really could use some French toast. I had a hankering—a serious one. And when Lunduke gets a hankering, no force in the cosmos can stop him (he says, switching to talking about himself in the third person seemingly at random).

Somehow or another, I ended up convincing the elementary crew (four of them, also at SCaLE, with a booth to promote their system) to join me on my French toast quest.

After searching the streets of downtown Pasadena, we found ourselves in a small, but packed, diner—solving French Toast Crisis 2016—and allowing us to chat and get to know each other, in person, a bit better.

These—in their mid-20s, practically wee babies.

But, I tell you, they impressed me. Their vision for what elementary was—and what it could be—was clear. Their passion was contagious. It was hard to sit with them, in that cramped little diner, and not feel excited and optimistic for what the future held.

And, what's more, they were simply nice people. They oozed goodness and kindness. Their spirit had not yet been crushed by a string of IT managers that make soul-crushing a hobby.

They were the future of desktop Linux (or at least a rather big part of it). This was evident, even back then. And, that wasn't just the French toast talking.

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Bryan Lunduke

Modeling the Entire Universe

6 days 19 hours ago
by Joey Bernard

For this article, I want to look at the largest thing possible, the whole universe. At least, that's the claim made by Celestia, the software package I'm introducing here. In all seriousness though, Celestia is a very well done astronomical simulator, similar to other software packages like Stellarium. Celestia is completely open source and is licensed under the GPL.

If Celestia isn't available via the package management system for your favorite distribution, you always can get the latest stable version from the Celestia's website as an installable binary package. If you really need the absolute latest version, you can grab it from the GitHub repository. Binaries also are available for Windows and Mac OS X, in case you need to travel on the dark side of computing.

Once you have installed Celestia, starting it provides a view of the Earth from space.

Figure 1. Celestia begins your exploration of space with a 3D view of Earth.

You're first placed on a track that follows the Earth through space. This is necessary, because Celestia is actually a real-time simulation. If you were in a fixed location in space, any object you were looking at quickly would leave your field of view. You can pause the simulation by pressing the spacebar. Once you are following an object, you can rotate your view by clicking the left mouse button and dragging left/right or up/down.

If you're more interested in observing a centered object, you can click the right mouse button, and then dragging will move you around the object instead, allowing you to see the object's details. You can zoom in or out by using the mouse wheel. All of these navigation actions also have keyboard shortcuts, for those who prefer that to using a mouse.

But, how do you select which object you are centered on? The easiest option is to click the Navigation→Solar System Browser menu item to pop up a selection window.

Figure 2. You can use the solar system browser to select objects to center on within the solar system.

From here, you can choose from planets, moons, asteroids and other solar system objects available by default within Celestia (I'll explain how to add even more items shortly).

If you're looking at items beyond the solar system, you can click the Navigation→Star Browser menu item to open a new window.

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Joey Bernard

RIP Dr. Bernard L. Peuto, Porting Android 9 Pie Go Stack to Rpi 3, LibreOffice v6.2 Coming Soon, Red Hat Virtualization Platform 4.3 Beta Released, Deepin Desktop Environment

6 days 21 hours ago

It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you that the father and architect of the Zilog Z8000 processor, Dr. Bernard L. Peuto, has passed. Learn more about his contributions to tech and the legacy he has left here.

An independent group referring to themselves as the  RaspberryPi DevTeam have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund their efforts in porting Google’s Android 9 Pie Go stack (built for entry-level smartphones) to the Raspberry Pi 3.

LibreOffice version 6.2 is right around the corner and the killer feature it will be sporting is a new tabbed layout for the menu items, making it similar to the competitive Microsoft Office suite.

Red Hat officially announced the 4.3 Beta release of the software defined Red Hat Virtualization platform which has been built to virtualize both Linux and Windows workloads.

Zamir SUN and Bowen Li of the Fedora project have put together a proposal to port over the beautiful Deepin Desktop Environment over to the Fedora Linux distribution.

Petros Koutoupis