Planet Ubuntu California

April 17, 2014

Jono Bacon

Ubuntu 14.04 Is Out!

My apologies in advance for the shorter blog post about this, but like many other Ubuntu folks, I am absolutely exhausted right now. Everyone, across the board, has been working their collective socks off to make Ubuntu 14.04 LTS a fantastic release on desktop, server, and cloud, and pull together our next iteration of Ubuntu for smart-phones and tablets. Consequently, when the trigger is pulled to share our final product with the world, release day is often less of a blistering and energetic woo-hoo, but more of an exhausted but satisfying oh-yeah (complete with beer firmly clenched in hand).

I am hugely proud of this release. The last six months have arguably been our busiest yet. No longer are we just working on desktop and server editions of Ubuntu, but we are building for the cloud and full convergence across the client. No longer are we “just” pulling together the fruits of upstream software projects but we are building our own platform too; the Ubuntu SDK, developer eco-system, charm store, image-based updates, push notifications, app lifecycle, and more. While the work has been intense and at times frantic, it has always been measured and carefully executed. Much of this has been thanks to many of our most under-thanked people; the members of our tremendous QA and CI teams.

Today, tomorrow, and for weeks to come our users, the press, the industry, and others will assess our work in Ubuntu 14.04 across these different platforms, and I am very confident they will love what they see. Ubuntu 14.04 embodies the true spirit of Ubuntu; innovation, openness, and people.

But as we wait to see the reviews let’s take a moment for each other. Now is a great time to reach out to each other and those Ubuntu folks you know (and don’t know) and share some kudos, some thanks, and some great stories. Until we get to the day where machines make software, today software is made by people and great software is built by great people.

Thanks everyone for every ounce of effort you fed into Ubuntu and our many flavors. We just took another big leap forward towards our future.

by jono at April 17, 2014 10:58 PM

Akkana Peck

Back from PyCon

I'm back from Montreal, settling back in.

The PiDoorbell tutorial went well, in the end. Of course just about everything that could go wrong, did. The hard-wired ethernet connection we'd been promised didn't materialize, and there was no way to get the Raspberry Pis onto the conference wi-fi because it used browser authentication (it still baffles me why anyone still uses that! Browser authentication made sense in 2007 when lots of people only had 801.11g and couldn't do WPA; it makes absolutely zero sense now).

Anyway, lacking a sensible way to get everyone's Pis on the net, Deepa stepped as network engineer for the tutorial and hooked up the router she had brought to her laptop's wi-fi connection so the Pis could route through that.

Then we found we had too few SD cards. We didn't realize why until afterward: when we compared the attendee count to the sign-up list we'd gotten, we had quite a few more attendees than we'd planned for. We had a few extra SD cards, but not enough, so I and a couple of the other instructors/TAs had to loan out SD cards we'd brought for our own Pis. ("Now edit /etc/network/interfaces ... okay, pretend you didn't see that, that's the password for my home router, now delete that and change it to ...")

Then some of the SD cards turned out not to have been updated with the latest packages, Mac users couldn't find the drivers to run the serial cable, Windows users (or was it Macs?) had trouble setting static ethernet addresses so they could ssh to the Pi, all the problems we'd expected and a few we hadn't.

But despite all the problems, the TAs: Deepa (who was more like a co-presenter than a TA), Serpil, Lyz and Stuart, plus Rupa and I, were able to get everyone working. All the attendees got their LEDs blinking, their sonar rangefinders rangefinding, and the PiDoorbell script running. Many people brought cameras and got their Pis snapping pictures when the sensor registered someone in front of it. Time restrictions and network problems meant that most people didn't get the Dropbox and Twilio registration finished to get notifications sent to their phones, but that's okay -- we knew that was a long shot, and everybody got far enough that they can add the network notifications later if they want.

And the most important thing is that everybody looked like they were having a good time. We haven't seen the reviews (I'm not sure if PyCon shares reviews with the tutorial instructors; I hope so, but a lot of conferences don't) but I hope everybody had fun and felt like they got something out of it.

The rest of PyCon was excellent, too. I went to some great talks, got lots of ideas for new projects and packages I want to try, had fun meeting new people, and got to see a little of Montreal. And ate a lot of good food.

Now I'm back in the land of enchantment, with its crazy weather -- we've gone from snow to sun to cold breezes to HOT to threatening thunderstorm in the couple of days I've been back. Never a dull moment! I confess I'm missing those chocolate croissants for breakfast just a little bit. We still don't have internet: it's nearly 9 weeks since Comcast's first visit, and their latest prediction (which changes every time I talk to them) is a week from today.

But it's warm and sunny this morning, there's a white-crowned sparrow singing outside the window, and I've just seen our first hummingbird (a male -- I think it's a broad-tailed, but it'll take a while to be confident of IDs on all these new-to-me birds). PyCon was fun -- but it's nice to be home.

April 17, 2014 04:20 PM

April 16, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

Finding a Tahr (or two!)

Tomorrow the next Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) release comes out, 14.04, development code name Trusty Tahr. In preparation, I was putting together some materials for our release event next week and found myself looking for the Tahr artwork when I remembered that it was included in the installer. So now I’ll share it with you as well!

If you go to this source page you will see a “download file” link which will allow you to download a .png of the tahr artwork.

Trusty Tahr

I haven’t found an svg version of this logo, but I’ll be sure to update this post if I do.

Looking for something slightly different? The Xubuntu team also included a tahr in our installer, created by Simon Steinbeiß:

This png has transparency, which make it show grey on white, but you can flavor it with any color you wish!

You can grab it at this source page where you will see the “download file” link. I’ve also uploaded the svg: art_tahr.svg

Enjoy! And happy release everyone!

by pleia2 at April 16, 2014 10:16 PM

April 14, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

PyCon 2014 wrap-up

As I mentioned in my post about the PiDoorbell workshop, this past week I attended my first PyCon in beautiful (if chilly) Montreal, QC. I did some touristing, but I’ll write about that once I have all my photos up…

But now, the conference!

It was the first conference I’ve attended where I volunteered to help out with the HP booth. I was worried that my role as an engineer on the OpenStack project would leave me completely unprepared to answer questions about HP specifically, but I was instead greeted with kinship among most folks who I spoke with as they could appreciate HP’s investment in open source (and Python). I was also pleased to learn that the guys from the local HP office who came to help out with the booth were also all engineers, focused on either network or printing. Having the actual engineers to helped design the hardware we had on display at the booth was really cool.

Plus, I’m sure it helped that we have a bunch of open Python, OpenStack and other cloud jobs, so plenty of folks were eager to hear about those.

I wasn’t at the booth all weekend, I attended all the keynotes and several talks throughout the event. I think my favorite talks ended up being Track memory leaks in Python by Victor Stinner, Subprocess to FFI: Memory, Performance, and Why You Shouldn’t Shell Out by Christine Spang and In Depth PDB by Nathan Yergler. Upon reflection this makes sense given my work in ops, I’m much more likely to be debugging Python code in my typical day than writing something, so the talks about tracking down problems and performance issues are right up my alley.

The keynotes all three days were great. On Sunday I was particularly struck by the conference gender diversity. In addition to having a reported 1/3 female speakers and attendees, all the leadership in the Python community seem genuinely dedicated to the issue. I’m so used to projects that are still arguing over whether a problem exists let alone taking solid, unapologetic steps to correct the cultural bias. So thank you Python community, for giving us an opportunity to catch up, it’s working!

And finally, since I can’t go anywhere anymore without getting pulled into an OpenStack event, I finally met Dana Bauer from Rackspace this week and she invited me to come help out with a short OpenStack workshop for women on Sunday morning from 10 until noon. The lab they had set up didn’t quite work out, but it gave attendees the opportunity to go in the direction they wanted to. I was able to help a bit here and there, and James E. Blair gave a mini-presentation to a few folks on how to get going with DevStack.

At lunch I was able to meet up with Tatiana Al-Chueyr to chat some about the contribution workflow for OpenStack, which is always a lot of fun for me.

I’m pretty much exhausted from all the socializing, but as always with these conferences it was great to meet up with and chat with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. Thanks to everyone for such a fun week!

Tonight the weather started to turn chilly again, time to head home.

by pleia2 at April 14, 2014 12:48 AM

April 13, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

San Francisco 14.04 Release Party on April 24th

The release of Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) LTS is coming up on Thursday, April 17th!

To celebrate, the Ubuntu California team in San Francisco will be hosting an Ubuntu release party at AdRoll! Huge thanks to them for offering us space for this event.


AdRoll is located at 972 Mission Street in San Francisco. It’s within easy walking distance of the Powell Street BART and MUNI stations, which we recommend since parking can be expensive downtown.

Our party will be very casual with free pizza and drinks for attendees. But we do have planned…

  • Mini presentation highlighting Ubuntu 14.04 features
  • Laptops running various flavors of 14.04
  • Tablets and phones running the latest Ubuntu build
  • Ubuntu quiz, with prizes!

So if you’re in the area and would like to join us, please RSVP here:

San Francisco Trusty Release Party

Alternatively you can email me directly at and I’ll get you added to the attendee list.

I'm going to the Ubuntu Release Party

San Francisco isn’t the only active part of the state this release, San Diego is also hosting an event, on April 17th, details here. If you’re near Los Angeles, Nathan Haines is collaborating with the Orange County Linux Users Group (OCLUG) to do an installfest on Saturday May 24th, learn more here.

Not in California? Events are coming together all around the world, check out the LoCo Team Portal to see if there is an event being planned in your area: 14.04 Release Parties.

by pleia2 at April 13, 2014 09:25 PM

PiDoorbell workshop at PyCon 2014 was a success!

This week I had the opportunity to attend PyCon for the first time. Since beginning to use Python in my systems work so much last year, I’ve had increasing interest in participating in this conference in some capacity, so when the opportunity came around at work to staff the HP booth here in Montreal I was happy to volunteer.

I was also brought to PyCon to be a Teaching Assistant for the Build your own PiDoorbell ! – Learn Home Automation with Python with fellow CodeChix members Rupa Dachere, Akkana Peck, Deepa Karnad Dhurka, Serpil Bayraktar and Stuart Easson.

We spent several weeks preparing for this tutorial. I made the trek down to Palo Alto twice to attend mini-sprints so we could test out the instructions in person prior to the event. We were able to add a number of improvements to both the code and documentation through these events and worked out some of the logistical issues of doing such a hardware event at a conference venue.

Workshop leads and TAs

The actual tutorial was held on Wednesday afternoon. Attendees quickly piled in and we were able to distribute our kits. Somehow we ended up with a few too many registrants but were able to scramble together a few extra pieces to make it work for everyone.

The tutorial was split into several sections, with the tutorial leads (Rupa and Akkana) giving presentations and us TAs going around and helping everyone with their setups when they got stuck. The biggest challenge for most was getting their system to talk to the Raspberry Pi, as we had folks on various operating systems with all kinds of network and USB setups.

Once we got everyone talking to the Pis, it was time for the fun stuff! Akkana gave a great presentation that was a tour of the hardware of the Raspberry Pi, including the setup of the GPIO pins configuration. For more about some cool hardware stuff she’s been doing with the Pi, I highly recommend her blog posts on the topic.

Then we had an script to allow folks to make an LED blink:

As you can see, we’re using solderless breadboards so we didn’t have the complexity of soldering, thank goodness.

Then came the meat of the tutorial, wiring up the distance sensor (and camera if they had one) to actually detect when objects passed and take a photo. I brought along both my Raspberry Pi NoIR Camera Board – Infrared-sensitive Camera and my webcam from my desk at home so attendees could play around with them if they didn’t have ones of their own.

The last step was using Dropbox and Twilio to have a space to upload the photo to and then send out a notification.

Surprisingly for a hardware tutorial with such a diversity of host systems, I’m happy to report that most of the students were able to get the tutorial fully completed – at least to the point of taking pictures, if not the upload and notification portion. It was a lot of work for us TAs as we ran around helping everyone and debugging serial and networking issues, but it was worth it to see how much fun everyone had when they finally got an LED to blink or took their first picture.

All of the slides and source code is freely licensed, but the repository hasn’t been made available yet as Rupa wanted to fix some important bugs first (can’t have people frying their Pis!). But never fear, I’ll be following up to make sure it’s made available as soon as possible so others can do this too!

I’ve uploaded more photos from the event here:

by pleia2 at April 13, 2014 12:16 PM

April 12, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

May 3rd keynote and talk at LOPSA East

I’ve had a very busy year so far talk-wise. Back in January I gave a handful of sysadmin focused talks at in Perth, Western Australia. In February I did similar at the Southern California Linux Expo. In May I’ll be drifting slightly away from a Linux-only crowd to present at LOPSA-East in New Brunswick, New Jersey on May 3rd.

LOSPA-East 2014

First up on the schedule I’ll be doing my Code Review for Sys Admins talk:

I’m a member of the OpenStack Infrastructure team which is a geographically distributed team of systems administrators from several different companies who work together in public to maintain the infrastructure described at

To achieve this, we use a code review system that leverages Gerrit as the interface for peer review and Jenkins to run some basic configuration and code syntax checking against our submissions. This allows us to maintain for code and config file integrity and gives us a nice platform so that our fellow systems administrators can comment on and improve solutions we come up with. We also use IRC, Etherpad and more for collaboration, which I will discuss.

I love giving this talk and I’m excited to be giving it at a conference focused at sysadmin-type folks in the industry.

But it gets better, they’ve also asked me to keynote on Saturday evening!

I’ve titled my talk Universal Design for Tech: Improving Gender Diversity in our Industry (thanks to Leigh Honeywell for the title idea):

Universal Design is a principle in accessibility that accessible design makes things better for everyone. A key example of which are curb cuts and door openers which help those who are disabled but also folks with luggage and parents with strollers.

Elizabeth will discuss ideas on how to improve gender diversity in our industry, but many of the tips will help everyone beyond improvements that come through diversity. From offering formal education for systems administration to offering flexible schedules and work arrangements, there are many things that can be done to attract much-needed talent.

As someone who has made it in the industry I’m keen on preserving the environment that I’ve grown and thrived in, but also in making small changes that I know would have helped me along the way and will help others, including women.

I also took some time to chat with Tom Limoncelli about my talk, which he’s posted on the Everything Sysadmin blog: Interview with LOPSA-East Keynote: Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph

Registration is still open for the conference and I hear there might even be some space at the hotel left (but it’s filling up fast!). Hope to see you there!

by pleia2 at April 12, 2014 03:56 PM

April 07, 2014

Akkana Peck

Snow-Hail while preparing for Montreal

Things have been hectic in the last few days before I leave for Montreal with last-minute preparation for our PyCon tutorial, Build your own PiDoorbell - Learn Home Automation with Python next Wednesday.

[Snow-hail coming down on the Piñons] But New Mexico came through on my next-to-last full day with some pretty interesting weather. A windstorm in the afternoon gave way to thunder (but almost no lightning -- I saw maybe one indistinct flash) which gave way to a strange fluffy hail that got gradually bigger until it eventually grew to pea-sized snowballs, big enough and snow enough to capture well in photographs as they came down on the junipers and in the garden.

Then after about twenty minutes the storm stopped the sun came out. And now I'm back to tweaking tutorial slides and thinking about packing while watching the sunset light on the Rio Grande gorge.

But tomorrow I leave it behind and fly to Montreal. See you at PyCon!

April 07, 2014 12:55 AM

April 04, 2014


Viber for Ubuntu Desktop

Viber is a text messaging app  that was designed initially for smartphones. They expanded to the desktop and feature an Ubuntu client as well. With Viber  you can make free calls and send free texts, stickers, photos, voice and video messages to other Viber users, on any device, in any network and country. Its pretty cool.

Viber automatically detects which of your contacts already have Viber, so all you need to do is select a name and start a conversation. No invites. No hassle.

With Viber's user-friendly interface, you can easily send messages and make calls. You can also change your profile picture, identify which of your contacts already have Viber, and see who else has recently joined.

Some of the Viber features... free text, photo and video messages with location-sharing, best-quality VoIP calls using 3G or WiFi, call non-Viber mobile or landline numbers at low rates with Viber out, group messaging with up to 100 friends, no registration, passwords or invitations required. It also lets you download "stickers" which are kinda fun.

I use Viber a lot since most of my friends and colleagues are on it.

Head over to Viber and download the DEB file and install it! That simple!

by iheartubuntu ( at April 04, 2014 01:33 PM

April 03, 2014


UbuntuOne Alternatives - Insync

Now that Ubuntu One is shutting down we continue to look for other alternatives. There is Grive which syncs your Google Drive files and there is Dropbox... both work fine. Grive is limited and Dropbox is expensive.

There is another option you might consider. Insync is probably the most powerful Google Drive client available. Insync extends Drive's web functionality to your desktop by integrating tightly with Windows, Mac and Linux so you can get work done. Pricing is very affordable. Best yet you can try it out for free for 15 days. Insync supports a variety of linux distributions. Go to their website to download your appropriate install file. For Ubuntu users you will want the 32 bit or 64 bit DEB.

Here are some Insync features: Linux support, multiple Google accounts, convert Google Docs to Office, built-in sharing without a browser, support for external & network drives, recent changes feed, desktop notifications, right-click share, on-demand shared files syncing, selective sync all folders + files folders you own, name your own folder, revert read-only files, *awesome* support.

Setup is easy. Just install the DEB file and when you start Insync for the first time it will walk you through connecting your Google Drive account. Once installed you will have an Insync indicator on your top panel as seen in the photo above. Clicking it shows you the options available which is far more then what Grive-tools can do.

Checking preferences gives your even more options and you'll be able to see how much space you still have available on your Google Drive.

Insync adds a bright blue folder for your Google Drive(s) and also bookmarks it for you as well making it easy to get to. Insync also features a handy set of icons on top of the folders or files to let you know if they are synced up or still trying to sync. Very similar to how Dropbox shows file and folder status.

If you dont mind using Google products and 15GB of storage space is enough for you, insync is a well designed option. Its better than Ubuntu One and just as nice as Dropbox, but without the heavy price. 

I love the multiple account feature, the top panel indicator, and I like the fact you can right click and add any folder on your computer to Insync without having to put the folder into your Google Drive folder. Very cool.

* You can get Insync for free if you share your Insync status on social media like Facebook and Twitter.

by iheartubuntu ( at April 03, 2014 08:18 PM

UbuntuOne Alternatives - Grive

With the recent announcement that Ubuntu One is shutting down its services, its time to find some alternatives.

Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage. Not bad. If you need more room, Google charges only $2 per month for 100GB of storage space. If you dont mind the intrusive nature of Google, this is a cheap possibility. Unfortunately there is no native client in Ubuntu/linux for Google Drive. However...

There is a command line tool called "grive" and thanks to thefanclub a great app called grive-tools was created as a GUI for grive.

Grive-tools works great on Ubuntu 12.10 or newer and Linux Mint 14 or newer. As you can see in the screenshot above, there is a nice Google Drive indicator.

To install grive-tools, input these two commands into a terminal...

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:thefanclub/grive-tools
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install grive grive-tools

If you need to install it on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, its a bit tricky (I could not get it to work) using these instructions HERE.

Grive-tools for Google Drive is basic but it gets the job done. Check out our next couple of articles for more options to Ubuntu One. if you are looking for something with more features that supports Google Drive, give Insync a try. I really like it so far!

by iheartubuntu ( at April 03, 2014 08:17 PM

Jono Bacon

I Am Hiring

I just wanted to let you folks know that I am recruiting for a community manager to join my team at Canonical.

I am looking for someone with strong technical knowledge of building Ubuntu (knowledge of how we release, how we build packages, bug management, governance etc), great community management skills, and someone who is willing to be challenged and grow in their skills and capabilities.

My goal with everyone who joins my team is not just to help them be successful in their work, but to help them be the very best at what they do in our industry. As such I am looking for someone with a passion to be successful and grow.

I think it is a great opportunity and to be part of a great team. Details of the job are available here – please apply if you are interested!?

by jono at April 03, 2014 04:53 PM


UbuntuOne Alternatives - Dropbox

Dropbox is a quality alternative to Ubuntu One which will be disappearing soon. Dropbox works well in Ubuntu and is easy to set up by downloading a DEB file and installing it. The integration and file syncing across computers and devices is perfect. Dropbox ONLY offers 2.5GB for free and charges $99 USD per year for 100GB of space. I wont go into too much detail here since most computer users know about Dropbox, but it is one of the top options instead of Ubuntu One.

Dropbox is what I currently use (as well as Ubuntu One), but I am looking at other options that work just as good. Look for another article soon covering other alternatives to Ubuntu One. :)

by iheartubuntu ( at April 03, 2014 01:01 PM

April 02, 2014

Jono Bacon

Ubuntu Online Summit Dates

At the last Ubuntu Developer Summit we discussed the idea of making our regular online summit serve more than just developers. We are interested in showcasing not just the developer-orientated discussion sessions that we currently have, but also including content such as presentations, demos, tutorials, and other topics.

I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that the first Ubuntu Online Summit will happen from 10th – 12th June 2014. The website is not yet updated (we are going to keep everything on and can point there, and Michael is making the changes to bring over the static content).

We are really keen to get ideas for how the event can run so I am scheduling a hangout on Thurs 10th April at 5pm UTC on Ubuntu On Air where I would welcome ideas and input. I hope to see you there!

by jono at April 02, 2014 11:03 PM

March 27, 2014

Akkana Peck

Email is not private

Microsoft is in trouble this week -- someone discovered Microsoft read a user's Hotmail email as part of an internal leak investigation (more info here: Microsoft frisked blogger's Hotmail inbox, IM chat to hunt Windows 8 leaker, court told). And that led The Verge to publish the alarming news that it's not just Microsoft -- any company that handles your mail can also look at the contents: "Free email also means someone else is hosting it; they own the servers, and there's no legal or technical safeguard to keep them from looking at what's inside."

Well, yeah. That's true of any email system -- not just free webmail like Hotmail or Gmail. I was lucky enough to learn that lesson early.

I was a high school student in the midst of college application angst. The physics department at the local university had generously given me an account on their Unix PDP-11 since I'd taken a few physics classes there.

I had just sent off some sort of long, angst-y email message to a friend at another local college, laying my soul bare, worrying about my college applications and life choices and who I was going to be for the rest of my life. You know, all that important earth-shattering stuff you worry about when you're that age, when you're sure that any wrong choice will ruin the whole rest of your life forever.

And then, fiddling around on the Unix system after sending my angsty mail, I had some sort of technical question, something I couldn't figure out from the man pages, and I sent off a quick question to the same college friend.

A couple of minutes later, I had new mail. From root. (For non-Unix users, root is the account of the system administrator: the person in charge of running the computer.) The mail read:

Just ask root. He knows all!
followed by a clear, concise answer to my technical question.

Great! ... except I hadn't asked root. I had asked my friend at a college across town.

When I got the email from root, it shook me up. His response to the short technical question was just what I needed ... but if he'd read my question, did it mean he'd also read the long soul-baring message I'd sent just minutes earlier? Was he the sort of snoop who spent his time reading all the mail passing through the system? I wouldn't have thought so, but ...

I didn't ask; I wasn't sure I wanted to know. Lesson learned. Email isn't private. Root (or maybe anyone else with enough knowledge) can read your email.

Maybe five years later, I was a systems administrator on a Sun network, and I found out what must have happened. Turns out, when you're a sysadmin, sometimes you see things like that without intending to. Something goes wrong with the email system, and you're trying to fix it, and there's a spool directory full of files with randomized names, and you're checking on which ones are old and which are recent, and what has and hasn't gotten sent ... and some of those files have content that includes the bodies of email messages. And sometimes you see part of what's in them. You're not trying to snoop. You don't sit there and read the full content of what your users are emailing. (For one thing, you don't have time, since typically this happens when you're madly trying to fix a critical email problem.) But sometimes you do see snippets, even if you're not trying to. I suspect that's probably what happened when "root" replied to my message.

And, of course, a snoopy and unethical system administrator who really wanted to invade his users' privacy could easily read everything passing through the system. I doubt that happened on the college system where I had an account, and I certainly didn't do it when I was a sysadmin. But it could happen.

The lesson is that email, if you don't encrypt it, isn't private. Think of email as being like a postcard. You don't expect Post Office employees to read what's written on the postcard -- generally they have better things to do -- but there are dozens of people who handle your postcard as it gets delivered who could read it if they wanted to.

As the Verge article says, "Peeking into your clients' inbox is bad form, but it's perfectly legal."

Of course, none of this excuses Microsoft's deliberately reading Hotmail mailboxes. It is bad form, and amid the outcry Microsoft has changed its Hotmail snooping policies somewhat, saying they'll only snoop deliberately in certain cases).

But the lesson for users is: if you're writing anything private, anything you don't want other people to read ... don't put it on a postcard. Or in unencrypted email.

March 27, 2014 08:59 PM

March 26, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

Sharing the Beauty: Organ Class

This past Sunday MJ and I went over to Congregation Sherith Israel to learn about the organ that graces the sanctuary.

The organ has always been a big deal for me. Even though I’m not religious, I do have warm feelings and memories surrounding the stunning, old cathedrals that have organs and I’ve made an effort to visit more from Dublin to San Juan. As such, having an amazing one in the synagogue we attend made me feel at home and I’ve really enjoyed the music there.

For the class we had Jonathan Dimmock, regular player of the organ at the synagogue (and at cathedrals and more around the world) there to tell us all about it and play for us. The first thing we learned is what the organ is. It’s a symphonic organ made by the Los Angeles Organ Company, reorganized from the Murray M. Harris Organ Co. so they call it a Murray Harris.

It was also interesting to learn that in the Reform Judaism movement that the installation of organs in synagogues was something that started in the Western United States and moved east, making this one in San Francisco one of the first in a synagogue and a magnificent example of this history. It was also the first in a house of worship in San Francisco to have a three-rank echo division, which is located in the dome and created ethereal and “far away” sounds, which he demonstrated.

It was really interesting to hear about his experience around the world playing on different organs and how they all have their own character. He explained that one of the things of note with this organ was due to its age and purpose (worship accompaniment), it is one of the warmest, softest organs he’s ever worked with, as it had to account for services where there were no microphones.

Now I’ve seen organs up close before, so I was delighted by the opportunity during this class to learn more about the internals and to see inside. There are several pipes that are visible and decorated, but the organ has over 2000 pipes total! And we had the opportunity to walk behind the facade to actually look up at some of the other pipes.

Below the pipe room, was the guts of what powers the whole thing, a surprisingly loud machine with a belt that powered the wind going up to the pipes. I had to walk from the room to the sanctuary a couple of times to reconcile how loud it was in the room with how silent it is where congregants sit.

In all, it was a great learning experience.

This was the last class to wrap up Sharing the Beauty, I wrote about all previous ones too:

More photos from the organ class are here:

by pleia2 at March 26, 2014 12:51 AM

March 25, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

March in Maine visit

I spent the past week in Maine staying with my sister to visit with her, my nephew and my mother. In addition to obvious quality time with my sister and mother, I really wanted to have some bonding time with my little 20 month old nephew Xavier. And to not put them too much on the spot to entertain me (or me entertain myself) during the whole trip, I took advantage of my flexible work situation and decided to work while I was there. It ended up working out very well, I was very productive and also able to be present with my family all week.

Typically when I go to New England I fly into Manchester and spend some time visiting other family and friends who are still local, but this time I was on a shoestring budget and decided to simply fly into Portland and ask for family to pick me up. No rental car, no expensive detours. It had been years since I had flown into the Portland Jetport, so flying into such a small airport that only takes the smaller regional planes was my first adventure. I greatly enjoyed the Bombardier Q400 that I flew in on, it had propellers!

My mother picked me up and we began the drive 2 hours north to where my sister lives. She had a lot more snow than Portland does.

The week was spent mostly at Annette’s place, where I was sleeping, but we also had the opportunity to go over to my mother’s several times. She has a number of cats, one of whom was an older Siamese named Simon who I particularly bonded with:

I also got to hold George, my mother’s beautiful red-tail boa.

On Wednesday I took a long lunch to go with my mother to L. L. Bean. I had to exchange a raincoat that had begun to come apart (very unlike a coat from them!) and buy some other clothes. While we were in Freeport I also took the opportunity to have my lobster roll of the trip at Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Kitchen:

Wednesday night it snowed, so we woke up to 8 inches of snow on the ground for Thursday, the first day of spring. Since I didn’t have anywhere to go Thursday this ended up being perfect for me – not enough snow to cause trouble, but enough to be beautiful! Annette did have to move her car for the plow truck though, during which Xavier showed me what he wanted for breakfast and we sat down together to eat it.

He’s so adorable.

Thursday night we made our way out to La Fluer’s Restaurant so I could get my lobster pie. Friday was another long lunch day where we went up to Augusta for a Chinese buffet and to do some shopping. My trip wrapped up Saturday with Maine barely letting go of me — it was snowing when the plane took off and we had to be de-iced.

In all, a great trip. I hope to do it again next year! More photos from my trip:

by pleia2 at March 25, 2014 04:05 AM

March 21, 2014

Akkana Peck

Flicker Morning

[Northern Flicker on our deck] "There's a woodpecker sitting on the patio", Dave said, shortly after we'd both gotten up. He pointed down through the gap where you can see the patio from upstairs. "It's just sitting there. You can go down and look through the door; it doesn't seem to mind."

Sure enough, a female northern flicker was sitting on the concrete patio deck, immobile except for her constantly blinking eyes and occasionally swiveling head. Definitely not a place you'd normally expect to see a woodpecker.

Some twenty minutes earlier, I remembered, I'd heard a couple of thumps on the roof outside the bedroom, and seen the shadow of wings through the drawn shades. I've heard of birds flying into windows and getting stunned, but why would one fly into a roof? A mystery, but I was sure the flicker's presence was related to the thumps I'd heard.

I kept an eye out while I made coffee and puttered around with normal morning chores. She wasn't budging from that spot, though she looked relatively alert, keeping her eyes open even while sitting immobile.

I called around. (We still don't have internet to the house -- Comcast keeps giving us the runaround about when they'll dig their trench, and I'm not entirely convinced they've even applied for the permit they said they'd applied for three weeks ago. Maybe we need to look into Dish.) The Santa Fe raptor center had a recorded message suggesting that injured birds be put in a cool dark box as a first treatment for shock. The Española Wildlife Center said if I thought she was injured and could catch her, they could take her in.

I did suspect she was injured -- by now she'd been there for 45 minutes or more, without moving -- but I decided to give her some time to recover before going for a capture. Maybe she was just in shock and needed time to gather herself before trying to fly. I went on with my morning chores while keeping an eye out for coyotes and ravens.

For two hours she remained there. The sun came out from behind the clouds and I wondered if I should give her some shade, food or water, but decided to wait a while. Then, as I was going back to the bird book to verify what kind of flicker she was and what gender, she suddenly perked up. Swiveling her head around and looking much more alert than before, she raised herself a little and took a few steps, to one side and then the other. More head swiveling. Then suddenly, as I was reaching for my camera again, she spread her wings and flew off. A little heavily and stiffly, but both wings looked okay.

So our morning's flicker adventure has a happy ending.

March 21, 2014 05:46 PM

March 14, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

Life, hardware tinkering and my grandmother

Hard to believe it’s the middle of March already. My 9 weeks of Couch-to-5K has been stretched out a bit due to getting another cold a couple weeks ago and then working from the office in Sunnyvale for a week, which left very little time for exercise. I re-did a couple interval runs from earlier in the week to get back up to par, and I’m on schedule to finish week 7 tomorrow. On Friday I’m taking a redeye to visit my mother, sister and nephew in Maine so it looks like Sunday’s run will be and interesting one done dodging snow banks!

In project work I finally managed to move my primary desktop to a RAID1 array. As is with most of these projects, it waited until I started getting disk errors…and a bit longer, before I was forced to complete this. It took me longer to do than I anticipated due to attempts to use the Ubuntu graphical installer to set up RAID+LVM, at some point I gave up and used the MinimalCD which uses the ncurses Debian Installer, my favorite!

I was also happy to join Rupa Dachere and Serpil Bayraktar this past Sunday to work on the Raspberry Pi tutorial we’re presenting next month. Our experiences that day gave us a whole list of notes about what we’ll need for attendees and possible problems that may occur on site. Plus, I was able to hook up my Pi via console for the first time, which was fun.

A couple weeks ago I also helped organize an Ubuntu Documentation Day, summary here. The Documentation team has really been transformed over this past year and I’m proud of the work the team has been doing to attract and onboard new contributors, which this day was a part of.

In less cheerful news, I took the loss of my grandmother a bit harder than I expected. I think this was in part due to there being no scheduled service of any kind right now and distance from family, I felt isolated. I think visiting my sister next week will help. MJ and I are also planning to go back to Philadelphia to visit some time this spring and hope to make it up to Ridgewood to visit the Schoolhouse Museum that my grandmother worked with for many years and was always a highlight of my trips to visit them. It will be nice to relive some memories. Her obituary is here.

This week MJ and I went to a hockey game, with promise of a good game with the Sharks playing the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Sharks one 6-2 in a brutal but enjoyable game, for Sharks fans anyway! I hosted an Ubuntu Hour on Wednesday night but skipped the Debian Dinner so I could get home and work on a project.

I’m looking forward to this trip to Maine. My sister keeps insisting that it’s boring and cold there, but I think that’s the change of pace I’m looking for. Plus, I’ll be working throughout the week and playing with my nephew, so I can’t get too bored!

by pleia2 at March 14, 2014 06:36 AM

March 11, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

OpenStack Infrastructure March 2014 Bug Day

Today the OpenStack Infrastructure team hosted their third bug day of the cycle.

lady bug chocolate lollipops

First, I created our etherpad: cibugreview-march2014 (see etherpad from past bug days on the wiki at: InfraTeam#Bugs)

Then I run my simple script and populate the etherpad.

Then I grab the bug stats from launchpad and copy them into the pad so we (hopefully) have inspiring statistics at the end of the day. Once bugday makes it into infra proper I hope to update that to include us too, there is a bug for that, which I updated today.

Then comes the real work. I open up the old etherpad and go through all the bugs, copying over comments from the old etherpad and making my own comments as necessary about obvious updates I see (and updating my own bugs).

Last step: Let the team go to town on the etherpad and bugs!

As we wrap up, here are the stats from today:

Bug day start total open bugs: 293

  • 50 New bugs
  • 51 In-progress bugs
  • 5 Critical bugs
  • 23 High importance bugs
  • 15 Incomplete bugs

Bug day end total open bugs: 245

  • 0 New bugs
  • 45 In-progress bugs
  • 4 Critical bugs
  • 24 High importance bugs
  • 21 Incomplete bugs

Thanks again everyone!

by pleia2 at March 11, 2014 11:28 PM

March 07, 2014

Eric Hammond

Cost of Transitioning S3 Objects to Glacier

how I was surprised by a large AWS charge and how to calculate the break-even point

Glacier Archival of S3 Objects

Amazon recently introduced a fantastic new feature where S3 objects can be automatically migrated over to Glacier storage based on the S3 bucket, the key prefix, and the number of days after object creation.

This makes it trivially easy to drop files in S3, have fast access to them for a while, then have them automatically saved to long-term storage where they can’t be accessed as quickly, but where the storage charges are around a tenth of the price.

…or so I thought.

S3 Lifecycle Rule

My first use of this feature was on some buckets where I store about 350 GB of data that fits the Glacier use pattern perfectly: I want to save it practically forever, but expect to use it rarely.

It was straight forward to use the S3 Console to add a lifecycle rule to the S3 buckets so that all objects are archived to Glacier after 60 days:

S3 Lifecycle Rule

(Long time readers of this blog may be surprised I didn’t list the command lines to accomplish this task, but Amazon has not yet released useful S3 tools that include the required functionality.)

Since all of the objects in the buckets were more than 60 days old, I expected them to be transitioned to Glacier within a day, and true to Amazon’s documentation, this occurred on schedule.

Surprise Charge

What I did not expect was an email alert from my AWS billing alarm monitor on this account letting me know that I had just passed $200 for the month, followed a few hours later by an alert for $300, followed by an alert for a $400 trigger.

This is one of my personal accounts, so a rate of several hundred dollars a day is not sustainable. Fortunately, a quick investigation showed that this increase was due to one time charges, so I wasn’t about to run up a $10k monthly bill.

The line item on the AWS Activity report showed the source of the new charge:

$0.05 per 1,000 Glacier Requests x 5,306,220 Requests = $265.31

It had not occurred to me that there would be much of a charge for transitioning the objects from S3 to Glacier. I should have read the S3 Pricing page, where Amazon states:

Glacier Archive and Restore Requests: $0.05 per 1,000 requests

This is five times as expensive as the initial process of putting objects into S3, which is $0.01 per 1,000 PUT requests.

There is one “archive request” for each S3 object that is transitioned from S3 to Glacier, and I had over five million objects in these buckets, something I didn’t worry about previously because my monthly S3 charges were based on the total GB, not the number of objects.5306220

Overhead per Glacier Object

josh.monet has pointed out in the comments that Amazon has documented some Glacier storage overhead:

For each S3 object migrated to Glacier, Amazon adds “an additional 32 KB of Glacier data plus an additional 8 KB of S3 standard storage data”.

Storage for this overhead is charged at standard Glacier and S3 prices. This makes Glacier completely unsuitable for small objects.

Break-even Point

After stopping to think about it, I realized that I was still saving money on the long term by moving objects in these S3 buckets to Glacier storage. This one-time up front cost was going to be compensated for slowly by my monthly savings, because Glacier is cheap, even compared to the reasonably cheap S3 storage costs, at least for larger files.

Here are the results of my calculations:

  • Monthly cost of storing in S3: 350 GB x $0.095/GB = $33.25

  • Monthly cost of storing in Glacier: $8.97

    • 350 GB x $0.01/GB = $3.50
    • Glacier overhead: 5.3 million * 32 KB * $0.01/GB = $1.62
    • S3 overhead: 5.3 million * 8 KB * $0.95/GB = $3.85
  • One time cost to transition 5.3 million objects from S3 to Glacier: $265

  • Months until I start saving money by moving to Glacier: 11

  • Savings per year after first 11 months: $291 (73%)

For this data’s purpose, everything eventually works out to an advantage, so thanks, Amazon! I will, however, think twice before doing this with other types of buckets, just to make sure that the data is large enough and is going to be sitting around long enough in Glacier to be worth the transition costs.

As it turns out, the primary factor in how long it takes to break even is the average size of the S3 objects. If the average size of my data files were larger, then I would start saving money sooner.

Here’s the formula… The number of months to break even and start saving money when transferring S3 objects to Glacier is:

break-even months = 631,613 / (average S3 object size in bytes - 13,011)

(units apologies to math geeks)

In my case, the average size of the S3 objects was 70,824 bytes (about 70 KB). Applying the above formula:

631,613 / (70,824 - 13,011) = 10.9

or about 11 months until the savings in Glacier over S3 covers the cost of moving my objects from S3 to Glacier.

Looking closely at the above formula, you can see that any object 13 KB or smaller is going to cost more to transition to Glacier rather than leaving it in S3. Files approaching that size are going to save too little money to justify the transfer costs.

The above formula assumes an S3 storage cost of $0.095 per GB per month in us-east-1. If you are storing more than a TB, then you’re into the $0.08 tier or lower, so your break-even point will take longer and you’ll want to do more calculations to find your savings.

[Update 2012-12-19: Included additional S3 and Glacier storage overhead per item. Thanks to josh.monet for pointing us to this information buried in the S3 FAQ.]

[Update 2013-03-07] Amazon S3 documentation now has a section on Glacier Pricing Considerations that has some good pointers.

Original article:

by Eric Hammond at March 07, 2014 11:29 PM

March 06, 2014

Jono Bacon

Open Source Think Tank Community Leadership Summit Soon

As some of you will know, I founded the Community Leadership Summit that takes place in Portland, Oregon every year. The event brings together community leaders, organizers and managers and the projects and organizations that are interested in growing and empowering a strong community. Each year we discuss, debate and continue to refine the art of building an effective and capable community, structured in a set of presentation and attendee-driven unconference sessions.

This year’s event is happening on 18th – 19th July 2014 (the two days before OSCON), and is shaping up to be a great event. We have over 180 people registered already, with a diverse and wide-ranging set of attendees. The event is free to attend, you just need to register first. We hope to see you there!

In a few weeks though we have an additional sister-event to the main Community Leadership Summit at the Open Source Think Tank.

The Community Leadership Summit and Open Source Think Tank have partnered to create a unique event designed for executives and managers involved in community management planning and strategic development. While the normal annual Community Leadership Summit serves practicing community managers and leaders well, this unique event is designed to be very focused on executives in a strategic leadership position to understand the value and process of building a community.

I have been wanting to coordinate a strategic leadership event such as this for some time, and the Think Tank is the perfect venue; it brings together executives across a wide range of Open Source organizations, and I will be delivering the Community Leadership Summit track as a key part of the event on the first day.

The event takes place on 24th March 2014 in Napa, California. See the event homepage for more details – I hope to see you there!

The track is shaping up well. We will have keynote sessions, break-out groups discussing gamification, metrics, hiring community managers, and more, a dedicated case study (based on a real organization with the identity anonymized) to exercise these skills and more.

If you want to join the Community Leadership Summit track at the Open Source Think Tank, please drop me an email as space is limited. I hope to see you there!

by jono at March 06, 2014 11:03 PM

Ubuntu Developer Summit Next Week

Next week we have our Ubuntu Developer Summit, taking place online from Tues 11th March 2014 – Thurs 13th March 2014. Go and see the schedule – we still have lots of schedule space if you want to run a session. For details of how to propose a session, see this guide.

I just want to highlight a session I would like to really invite input on in particular.

Today the online Ubuntu Developer Summit is largely based on the formula from our physical UDSs that we used to have, and that formula goes back to 2004. While these have traditionally served the project well, I am cognizant that our community is much bigger and more diverse than it used to be, and our current Ubuntu Developer Summit doesn’t serve our wider community as well as it could; there is more to Ubuntu to rigorous software engineering.

UDS is great if you are a developer focused on building software and ensuring you have a plan to do so, but for our translators, advocates, marketeers, app developers, and more…the format doesn’t suit those communities as well.

As such, I would like to discuss this and explore opportunities where UDS could serve our wider community better. The session is here and is on Wed 12th March at 15.00UTC. I hope you can join me!

by jono at March 06, 2014 10:51 PM

Elizabeth Krumbach

OpenStack TripleO mid-cycle sprint kicks off

On Monday, March 3rd, we kicked off the TripleO (“OpenStack on OpenStack” ) mid-cycle meetup at the HP offices in Sunnyvale, California.

The day began by splitting up into groups with our specific focuses, including Ironic (bare metal) and Continuous Integration, where I ended up.

I was able to spend the day following up on a couple patches I had outstanding for the work I’ve been doing with Fedora on the infrastructure side and get some work done on another patch.

After lunch, Derek Higgins of Red Hat gave participants a walk through of how we’re doing testing, with a tour of the setup for our testing environments and the “TripleO cloud” itself that’s currently being used for testing, running on a rack of servers provided by HP.

After the tour, he made the diagram he used available to get a better picture of everything:

(Click for full version)

My day wrapped up by having a chat with some folks from Mirantis about some of their multi-node testing plans and how that may tie in to the work we’re doing in TripleO and the rest of infra.

The rest of the week so far has been spent over at the Yahoo! offices in Sunnyvale. Most noteworthy to what I’m working on, the Red Hat folks were able to make progress on getting their own rack up to supplement the current testing rack from HP in order to have redundancy in testing. I was also able to make progress in getting Fedora into the testing pool and had the opportunity to use the high bandwidth time with colleagues to work on some SELinux issues I’ve been running into and do some in person debugging.

Last night HP sponsored a fun dinner for all sprint attendees down at Gordon Biersch in San Jose. Today, Thursday we’re continuing our work which will wrap up tomorrow.

by pleia2 at March 06, 2014 06:13 PM

March 04, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

Sharing the Beauty: Stained Glass Class

On Sunday, March 2nd MJ and I headed over to Sherith Israel to attend a class by Ian Berke to learn about the stained glass throughout the historic building.

I didn’t know anything about stained glass, so the first thing we got to learn was the two main types of glass that are featured throughout the building: opalescent glass and painted glass. The painted glass was often in the 20th century Gothic revival style, with more stiff looking characters and simple colors and styles. The glass is stained in the traditional “pot metal” method where different types of metal are added to create different colors, copper for green, gold for red, cobalt for blue. I’m a fan.

The majority of the windows were of opalescent glass, an American innovation from the late 1800s pioneered by Tiffany and others. It requires multiple layers of glass that are colored with bone ash and other materials to make them a bit more flowing and dynamic than the flat colored painted windows. On these windows enamel was then used to paint features like faces, which allows for precise details but fades more quickly.

I have never gotten really close to stained glass windows before, so this was an opportunity to do so and see how thick and layered they tend to be, with intentional textures that you can feel on some of the windows, particularly the opalescent ones, to lend to the design. We also learned the basics of how a window is made, starting with either a pre-designed pattern or a design created for the window by the artist (both types are in the building) and then following the pattern in a full size printout/drawing that they cut and match the glass to match.

We also learned how expensive these windows were, and still are. Restoration for the massive Moses window on the west side of the building will cost almost $400,000 and has to be done every 100 years or so as the lead in the window starts to become brittle, risking the structural integrity of the window.

This was one of my favorite classes so far. I’m really looking forward to the class about the organ with Jonathan Dimmock coming up on March 23rd.

I have uploaded photos I took during the class here:

by pleia2 at March 04, 2014 05:09 PM

February 28, 2014

Akkana Peck

New house, no internet

[My new office] I'm writing this from my new home office in our new house, as I listen to the wind howl and watch out the big windows to see lightning over the Sangre de Cristo mountains across the valley.

We're nestled in the piñon-juniper woodlands of northern New Mexico. It's a big jump from living in Silicon Valley.

[The house is nestled in pinon-juniper woodland] Coyotes roam the property, though we don't catch a glimpse that often, and I think I saw a grey fox the first morning we were here. These past few weeks, Sandhill cranes have been migrating far overhead, calling their wild cries; sometimes they catch a thermal (once right over our house) and circle for a while, gaining altitude for their trip north.

And lightning -- summer thunderstorms were something I very much looked forward to (back in San Jose we got a thunderstorm maybe once every couple of years) but I didn't expect to see one so early. (I'm hoping the rain and wind will blow all the pollen off the junipers, so I can stop sneezing some time soon. Who knew juniper was such a potent allergen?)

And the night sky -- for amateur astronomers it looks like heaven. We haven't had a telescope set up yet (we're still unpacking and sorting) but the Milky Way is unbelievable.

[My new office, from the outside] We're in love with the house, too, though it's been neglected and will need a lot of work. It's by architect Bart Prince and it's all about big windows and open spaces. Here's me looking up at the office window from the garden down below.

Of course, not everything is perfect. To start with, in case anyone's been wondering why I haven't been around online much lately, we have no internet to the house until the cable company gets a permit to dig a trench under the street. So we're doing light networking by mi-fi and making trips to the library to use their internet connection, and it may be a few more weeks yet before we have a connection of our own.

I'm sure I'll miss the Bay Area's diversity of restaurants, though at the moment I'm stuffed with lamb, green chile and sopaipillas (a New Mexican specialty you can't really get anywhere else).

And of course I'll miss some of the people and the geeky gatherings, living in a small town that isn't packed with Linux and Python and tech women's user groups like the Bay Area. Still, I'm looking forward to the adventure.

And now, I'm off to the library to post this ...

February 28, 2014 02:36 AM

February 27, 2014

Jono Bacon

Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 10 ‘Midnight Throne Travels’

Stuart Langridge, Jeremy Garcia, Bryan Lunduke, and myself discuss:

  • Tech conferences — which ones are good, which ones are not, and why?
  • Desktop machines versus laptops, and a review of Stuart’s new gorgeous desktop computer from PC Specialist
  • Whistleblowing. In the light of the Snowden and Manning revelations, is whistleblowing a good idea, what’s available to protect whistleblowers from problems, and do we need to protect against those motivated by malice?
  • Miguel de Icaza, head of Xamarin and past founder of the Gnome and Mono projects, talks about why he was singled out as a “traitor”, what he’s doing now, and how to best work in the open source world
  • The winners in the Bad Voltage Selfie Competition! See this forum post for more details and all the entrants
  • A Bad Voltage community update covering growth on our community forum, the formation of our gaming community, the IRC channel, the Bad Voltage app, Bad Voltage at SCALE12x, and interesting post-show discussions.

Go and listen to or download the show here.

Be sure to share your thoughts on the show, the topics in it, ideas for future topics, and just be a part of the awesome and growing community of voltheads at Also, be sure to join in the Bad Voltage Selfie Competition to win some free O’Reilly books!

by jono at February 27, 2014 06:22 PM

Nathan Haines

Showing Ubuntu Pride

Ubuntu name badges by Nathan Haines

I take a lot of pride in the work I've done for Ubuntu. I've met so many wonderful people, made incredible friends, been to unique shows, run booths, been featured at conventions, published magazine articles, and even been on the radio.

I've always enjoyed being a public face for Ubuntu; someone you can come up to and ask questions and have discussions about the operating system, its goals, and computing in general. I haven't always enjoyed the lack of design work done for the community after the Ubuntu branding changed in 2010. While Canonical designed sleek and modern-looking branding assets, the design team was never given the resources to make sure that the community had the most basic materials. The brand asset guidelines are spectacular but they are also difficult to apply fully. I've been very vocal about the need for name badges or business cards, and while I was touched by the efforts of certain persons to get new business card templates out to the community, it was eventually for naught. I worked on creating new ones in time for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS but I burned out along the way. I did manage to print cards for SCALE11X in 2013 but they didn't come out right.

There's a funny thing about community, though. It's something you belong to but it's also something that gives back. This year at SCALE12X I worked hard to get the Ubuntu booth in a shape that I was proud of and worked with volunteers from the Ubuntu California LoCo to show off Ubuntu. While some were interested in the Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Lubuntu computers we had on display, the cell phones we had running Ubuntu was even more popular than the year before. Canonical was kind enough to provide two Nexus 4s running Ubuntu, and myself and another volunteer also had phones running Ubuntu. And while the expo floor was busy and exciting, I was really struck by the enthusiasm and generousity of various community members who were at SCALE.

First and foremost, Jono Bacon was around and quite busy, although he definitely made time for me. I have to say that I talked to him more this year than probably in the last seven years combined. He's been speaking and exhibiting for a long time, and I was pleased when he noticed some of the booth and design work I had invested in for SCALE. Jono is a really sincere guy, and if you've ever spent time with him you know how infectious his optimism can be. Jorge Castro was around and happy to see me, and I had the pleasure of meeting Marcos Ceppi for the first time. Everyone stopped by the booth for as long as they could spare and spent time greeting visitors and talking about Ubuntu. José Antonio Rey was also at the booth all weekend. I knew he was a newly-elected member of the Ubuntu Local Community Council but I had never met him or interacted with him before. He really amazed me with his friendliness and energy. He's as good working the booth as I am today, and he never hesitated to pitch in. Robert Wall was immeasureably helpful as always and Elizabeth Krumbach was so busy speaking at SCALE (four times!) that she only dropped by the booth each day to say hi. But I was able to catch up with her briefly. She's another person who is an incredible member of the Ubuntu community. I even got to talk with Amber Graner again, which was a real treat. Not to mention Eric Stolz, Matt Mootz, George Mulak, and others who volunteered at the Ubuntu booth at SCALE.

It's impossible to work with incredible people and not be affected by it. Running a booth is really hard work, and having such skilled and talented people around makes the work so much easier. Without ego or the slightest appearance of effort, everyone worked together to provide an exciting booth for SCALE attendees. And throughout various talks I had with each of them, I remembered what I loved about the Ubuntu community.

It's really important to be able to put your best face forward in all of your projects in life. And I think that it should be easier for Ubuntu members and advocates to proudly identify as part of the Ubuntu community. So I quit being annoyed at the two things that bother me most and, after recovering from SCALE, I've done something about them in time for the next LTS cycle.

Ubuntu name badges

I've taken a simple design reminiscent of the UDS name badges and created two name badges that elegantly identify volunteers who are representing Ubuntu. They are perfect for shows, booths, expos, release parties, installfests, and anywhere else it's important to show your assocation with Ubuntu. There are two designs. The first is a striking orange name badge which is perfect if you hate ink, and there is an elegant white name badge which is perfect for when you need sometimes a little more understated. Both are available at SpreadUbuntu and are available in the public domain. I've also added them to the Ubuntu Advocacy Kit to make them more easily available to LoCo teams and community champions who are focused on bringing Ubuntu to others. These badges are ready to print as-is but also make a quick starting point for custom name badges.

Ubuntu business cards

Ubuntu business cards by Nathan Haines

One of the most prominent perks of Ubuntu membership is the right to print business cards with the Ubuntu logo. For the last 4 years there haven't been good, solid cards that reflect the new branding that the Ubuntu project has enjoyed, although Jacob Peddicord and Murata Nobuto have come just short of perfection in my opinion. Canonical and Ubuntu are partners, and I envisioned that matching business cards would help illustrate the intertwined relationship we share. Thanks to the assistance of Paul Sladen and Marco Ceppi, I had what I needed to produce a sleek, clean business card design that looks stunning and professional all at once. I spent quite some time reviewing the existing design I had, and expanding upon it--providing space for project roles, extra contact information, GPG keys, and more.

With a stunning orange design, Ubuntu members will be able to share their contact information with pride. I've also created a white design that is perfect to use when color matching is a concern. These two designs are fully customizable and are twins of their Canonical business card counterparts. With Ubuntu 14.04 LTS nearing and a bold new roadmap that puts Ubuntu on devices all around us wherever we go, this is the perfect time to for project members to carry around strong Ubuntu business cards.

I'm an Ubuntu community advocate. It's what I love to do and what I do best. I've been fortunate enough to work with incredible people only two months into the year, and it's been revitalizing. I'm looking forward to expanding my efforts in the Ubuntu community this year, and I'm proud to show my Ubuntu pride along the way.

February 27, 2014 08:58 AM

Jono Bacon

My Top 5 Dream Ubuntu Apps

So, today we announced the Ubuntu App Showdown where you can build apps with the Ubuntu SDK and win some awesome prizes such as the Nexus 7 (2013) tablet and the Meizu MX3.

This got me thinking, which apps would a love to see on Ubuntu as part of the competition? Well, this is them, and hopefully they will be food for thought for some developers:

  • Email Client – this would be an email client that looks and functions like Discourse. With it you could connect to an IMAP/Gmail account, see mail as threads, reply to mails, create and send new emails etc. Bonus points for supporting multiple accounts.
  • Social Media Client – I haven’t found a Twitter and other social media client that works well for me. This one would show my timeline of tweets, have mentions on a different tab/screen, and support searches too. It would use the Online Accounts platform service to connect.
  • Google+ Client – I would love to see a G+ client that integrates neatly into Ubuntu. It would need to browse my timeline, show notifications, let me reply to posts and add +1s, and browse communities.
  • Ubuntu LoCo Teams App – an app where I can view the content from such as browsing teams, seeing current and up-coming events, browse the blog, and include the content in the Ubuntu Advocacy Kit. The power in this app would be looking like a beautiful app that any LoCo member can use to find cool events and do interesting things.
  • Riff Recorder – an audio recording app where I can adjust the volume of the mic (for when I am in a room with lots of noise such as a rehearsal) and then record the audio at that level and have the ability to share it somewhere.

If anyone manages to build these apps, you will make me a very happy man. :-)

by jono at February 27, 2014 01:30 AM

Join the Ubuntu App Showdown and Win Prizes!

Today we launched our next Ubuntu App Showdown.

The idea is simple: you have six weeks to build an application with the Ubuntu SDK that converges across both phone and tablet (which is simple). We have the following categories, each of which has a prize:

  • QML – a native app written in QML (wins a Nexus 7 (2013) tablet).
  • HTML5 – a native app written in HTML5 (wins a Nexus 7 (2013) tablet).
  • Ported – an app that has been ported from another platform to Ubuntu and used the Ubuntu SDK (wins a Nexus 7 (2013) tablet).

We are also delighted to include an additional category with two prizes sponsored by Meizu:

  • Chinese – an app that is written in either QML or HTML5 that would be of most interest to Chinese users, such as connecting to Chinese sites and services (2 x Meizu MX3s as prizes).

If you would like to get involved in the showdown, you can find out all the details here or for our Chinese friends here.

HTML5 Refinements

In preperation for the showdown we have also landed a number of significant improvements to HTML5 in the Ubuntu SDK. This includes:

  • Our HTML5 technology has been fully revamped and now all works from a single container.
  • A new single default template for creating your HTML5 app.
  • Full access to device sensors via cordova.
  • Full access to platform APIs via Javascript.
  • API documentation.
  • A brand new HTML5 section on complete with new guides, tutorials, API docs, and more.

Remember, we award extra point for blogging about and sharing on social media about your app and how it is developing, so be sure to share your work! Good luck!

by jono at February 27, 2014 12:59 AM

Ten Years of LugRadio, Zero Years of Bad Voltage

Ten years ago today we started LugRadio. For those of you who don’t know what LugRadio was, it was a podcast that some friends and I did that took a loose, fun, and eclectic look at Open Source and Linux. It developed a bit of a cult following to the point where 40+ people still hang out in the #lugradio channel today.

A am proud of what we achieved with LugRadio. Over 100 shows, 7 full-time presenters and countless guest presenters, 200+ hours of audio, 100+ guests, 2million+ downloads, multiple awards, 1000+ forums members, 40000+ forums posts, 6 live events in two countries, 5000+ emails to the show and an incredible community of people who surrounded the show, discussed it, got involved in some way, and otherwise gave us all immense enthusiasm to keep doing it.

I remember the day I started discussing the idea with Stuart Langridge, stood in my kitchen in Wolverhampton after a Linux User Group meeting, and I don’t think either of us would have ever dreamed of how far it went.

If you want to get a good idea of the show, check out the excellent documentary about LugRadio called Don’t Listen Alone by Tony Whitmore.

Although LugRadio is now wedged in the historical record, the good news is that there is a new kid on the block in the form of Bad Voltage.

Much is the same as with LugRadio (four presenters, show every two weeks, a focus on informative but entertaining content) but we don’t just limit the show to Linux and Open Source and we also cover technology, politics, gaming, and more. Check it out here.

by jono at February 27, 2014 12:23 AM

February 25, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach


In my previous post I talked about my Ubucon presentation at the Southern California Linux Expo this year and the Ubuntu booth that was busy throughout the weekend. There was much more to SCaLE12x than Ubuntu though!

On Friday I also had the opportunity to participate in the Infrastructure.Next event on Friday with a presentation on Open Source Systems Administration. This was a late addition to the schedule, and the session was only 30 minutes long so it wasn’t too much work to me to put it together quickly. As with the rest of SCaLE12x, I was happy to have a friendly, engaging audience which made for a comfortable presentation.

Slides from that talk are available here: scale_infra_opensource_sysadmin.pdf.

Friday night I enjoyed the series of UpSCALE talks, followed by the evening keyntoe by Lawrence Lessig. I saw Lessig speak over a year ago on the topic of campaign finance and government reform. I remember leaving that talk feeling a bit sad and hopeless about the situation with our government here in the US. This talk was in the same vein, but he had more positive news for actionable things that people (particularly tech people) could do to help. He also was able to showcase and the walk they did in January to gain support for their campaign finance reform efforts. The talk still made me a bit sad, because things are such a mess, but it is an important topic and I am inspired by seeing him to come the conference to speak about it.

Other highlights of the conference included a talk by Dmitri Zimine on OpenStack vs. VMWare. Predictably, as we were at an open source conference, OpenStack tended to come out on top for a long term investment of a large deployment. Of particular focus was the open source nature of OpenStack, allowing fixes to be deployed as quickly as you can patch them. The case was made for admin UIs that were easy to use in VMWare, but his message tended to be that for large deployments the administrators really should be leveraging APIs and mechanisms of automation through scripts rather than relying upon APIs. Expectedly, he urged technologists to embrace this and improve their skill set in this direction in order to remain successful and competitive in this growing market.

The slide from Dmitri’s talk that spoke to me the most!

It was also interesting to hear from Jason Hibbets in his talk Open Source ALL the cities where he recounted his significant experience with government in Raleigh, North Carolina and the book he wrote to help other communities, with resources at A copy of his book now resides on my Nook (which I did buy from to support it) and I’m looking forward to learning more, it was inspiring to hear of such grassroots efforts in the technology sphere make a serious difference in local policy and quality of life.

I had a third talk at the conference that landed on Saturday evening on Code Review for Systems Administrators. The time slot was pretty packed with cool talks, so as I saw people trickle in to fill the room I was really pleased. The audience was engaging and I was able to answer some really interesting questions, which spilled over into discussions on Sunday as well. I really love the work I do so it was exciting to talk with others who share my unusual passion for process in this sphere.

Slides available here:

On Sunday I was able to attend my colleague Clint Byrum’s talk OpenStack, Deploy thyself – TripleO. I’m already quite familiar with the project, but stepping back and getting a higher level view of it, along with a clearer picture of ideas moving forward is always a fun experience.

From there I headed over to the CentOS Project Q&A Forum. Given the recent rumblings in the Ubuntu community about licensing and trademarks around derivatives such as Linux Mint (which doesn’t go the extra step that CentOS does with the recompiling of binaries and avoiding trademark issues), I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more about the direction Red Hat is taking. It was interesting to learn that this new collaboration that CentOS will begin to develop communities focused on different respins of the OS, which reminded me of the community-maintained flavors that have always been a part of the Ubuntu family. It seems that Red Hat and CentOS are moving closer to what Ubuntu has traditionally done and Ubuntu and Canonical are finally picking up some of the licensing and trademark slack that they’ve allowed with derivatives. I hope both companies and communities find a happy balance here, and as a Xubuntu contributor am certainly a big fan of flavors and respins that operate within the same community as their parent or source distribution. I find it strengthens the trust community-wide from users to developers, leads to higher quality products and makes for a healthy working relationship.

At the end of the day I had the opportunity to meet with Goran Hainer, a volunteer from the Brooks & Brooks Foundation about his work putting Linux-based desktops into disadvantaged spaces in Los Angeles. He had heard of my work with Partimus and was keen to learn from our experience in schools in the San Francisco bay area. Fortuitously, we also happened to be sitting next to someone else who was active in the space, but with a focus on providing high speed internet access to those in need. There was much swapping of success stories, challenges and business cards. I tend to be pretty shy at conferences, but when I’m able, this kind of amazing discussion is what makes an experience at SCaLE complete.

More photos from the event are here:

by pleia2 at February 25, 2014 06:48 AM

Jono Bacon

Ubuntu Development Update Presentation

This last weekend I was in LA at SCALE12x and gave a presentation providing a detailed update of much of the work going on as we build a convergent Ubuntu. As I have mentioned before, there is lots of other foundational pieces being built as part of this work (app insulation, SDK, click packages,, platform services etc), and this presentation covered where we stand today in this work.

Obviously a lot more of you couldn’t be at SCALE than couldn’t, so I have recorded the presentation to share online. You can see it below or click here to watch it. Enjoy!

by jono at February 25, 2014 05:59 AM

February 23, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

5 ways to get involved today: Wrap up

On Friday, February 21st I gave my talk on 5 ways to get involved with Ubuntu today at the Southern California Linux Expo’s Ubucon.

I had a great audience who I was able to have some wonderful and inspiring chats with following my talk. There’s clearly a lot of interest in further involvement by user-level contributors, so I’m happy that the work I’ve been doing to improve on-boarding for projects I participate in will be valuable.

I’ve uploaded slides from the talk here: 5WaysToGetInvolvedWithUbuntuToday.pdf

You can also browse the companion blog posts I’ve been writing these past couple weeks leading up to the conference:

I really enjoyed the experience, huge thanks to Richard Gaskin for delivering another great Ubucon.

Finally, the Ubuntu booth put on by members of Ubuntu California has really been doing well this weekend, so thanks and congratulations to everyone who has been participating.

by pleia2 at February 23, 2014 06:54 PM

February 20, 2014

Jono Bacon

Today’s Ubuntu News

I am sure that you have all seen the exciting news about the first partners to ship Ubuntu smart-phones. For those who haven’t seen it:

19th February 2014, London: Canonical today announces it has signed agreements with mobile device manufacturers bq ( (Spain) and Meizu (China) to bring Ubuntu smartphones to consumers globally. Canonical is working with these partners to ship the first Ubuntu devices on the latest hardware in 2014. Ubuntu has also received significant support from the world’s biggest carriers, some of which intend to work with OEM partners to bring phones to market this year.

Development programmes have begun with the partners to provide smartphones with a superior user experience on mid to high end hardware for consumers around the world. Devices will be available to buy online through bq, Meizu and at

Today was a hectic day, starting with our Ubuntu town hall hangout and spent in a wealth of meetings. As such I haven’t had a chance to write a blog post about this announcement yet, but I wanted to throw something out on my blog before I go to bed.

Naturally this is tremendously exciting news. As I posted about before, 2013 was an intense year as we not only started building our convergent platform, but also the many inter-connecting pieces too such as our SDK, image based updates, Mir, app developer platform, platform services, app insulation, developer portal, and more. As a result of this work, since May 2013 I have been running Ubuntu full-time on my phone and we are in great shape.

In the last year my team has been heavily focused on building a new community; our Ubuntu app developer community. I have directed many resources in my team here for a number of reasons that I believe are of strategic importance to the future health, growth, and opportunity of Ubuntu and our community.

Firstly, we want Ubuntu to instill a level of simplicity, elegance, and power that is not just present in the default platform, dash, scopes, and services, but also emphasized across the apps that users want to use. This means kickstarting a new generation of apps inspired by the design and development principles that are driving our convergence vision and using a simple and powerful app developer platform so devs can go from idea to app store as quickly and easily as possible.

Secondly, I personally believe that apps are key to our success. I suspect that OEMs and carriers will be even more motivated by a platform with great apps and a powerful developer platform, I believe that users will be attracted to a platform with great apps, and I believe that developers will want to build apps for a platform that is both fun to use and develop for.

Thirdly, I believe there is a huge opportunity to refine and innovate in so many areas of our app developer platform and community. Everything from the tooling to knowledge and support to publishing can be optimized and refined to build the very best developer platform.

As such, in my peanut-sized brain the apps are where much of my team’s strategy should be focused.

I am delighted by the progress we are making here. As I wrote about a few days ago, there is lots of wonderful work going on and fresh features and improvements landing soon. Our Ubuntu app developer platform is growing in leaps and bounds and I am really proud of the efforts of so many people.

Now, while I am proud of where we are today, I am not going to compromise until we have the best developer platform in the world.

So, how does this all relate to the bq and Meizu news?

Well, this news starts the ball rolling on the first set of devices that are going to be hitting the market. This in-turn will result in a general consumer audience starting to use Ubuntu on smart-phones. While today we have thousands of developers flashing their phones with Ubuntu and eagerly writing apps and using other people’s apps, the injection of general consumers will build even more motivation and momentum for our app developers to create apps they are truly proud of and that will be of interest to a new generaton of Ubuntu smart-phone users. As a musician I can tell you that having an audience makes everything that much more worthwhile, and I think it is the same our developers who are about to get a new audience growing around them.

These are tremendously exciting times. Our vision is ambitious but every day the momentum grows and I delighted you are all joining the journey with us. Let’s do this, friends!

by jono at February 20, 2014 06:17 AM

Elizabeth Krumbach

Grandmother Krumbach

This morning I lost my grandmother, my father’s mother, who we all referred to affectionately as Nana. She was 90 years old.

It was a loss that we had been expecting after some time of age-related unwellness, but nothing quite prepares you for the the actual loss.

You were an inspiration. Love you and will miss you, Nana.

by pleia2 at February 20, 2014 12:39 AM

February 18, 2014


Meet with Top Experts and Providers of Virtual Currencies – 10% OFF Inside Bitcoins Conference

After taking Inside Bitcoins to Las Vegas this past winter, this innovative Bitcoin event is returning to New York Cityon April 7-8 at the Javits Convention Center.

At Inside Bitcoinsindustry experts, business visionaries, and virtual currency veterans converge to analyze the first digital, decentralized, peer-to-peer based global currency. These thought leaderswill also share their insights and knowledge on the implications of Bitcoin, along with predictions on what lies ahead.
Whether you're a venture capitalist, lawyer, technologist, entrepreneur, regulator, cryptographer, or public policy expert, the agendaoffers the latest intelligence for everyone and anyone interested in learning more about Bitcoin. Exciting sessions include Best Practices for Using and Securing Bitcoins, Moving Bitcoin Forward: Bringing Trust, Legitimacy and Transparency to the Market,Media & Legal Challenges for Cryptocurrency Advocates,Creating and Funding the Next 100 Great Bitcoin Companies, andWall Street's View of Fair Value for Bitcoin.
With "Satoshi Square" events popping up worldwide, Inside Bitcoins is excited to announce the addition of a special space, Bitcoins Trading Café, in the middle of the trade show floor where attendees can meet in a comfortable café setting to buy and sell Bitcoins. In addition to trading, this space will allow Bitcoin enthusiasts to network, relax, and discuss the cryptocurrency.  
We’re pleased to announce that Iheartubuntu is partnering with Inside Bitcoins to offer all readers 10% OFF a full conference pass. Enter code HEART at checkout to redeem your discount. Register Now!

by iheartubuntu ( at February 18, 2014 06:00 PM

Elizabeth Krumbach

5 ways to get involved today: Ubuntu Advocacy

At the Ubucon at Southern California Linux Expo on Friday, February 21st I’ll be doing a presentation on 5 ways to get involved with Ubuntu today. This post is part of a series where I’ll be outlining these ways that regular users can get involved with while only having minimal user-level experience with Ubuntu.

Back in 2007 I joined the Ubuntu Pennsylvania team and kicked off my work as a local Ubuntu advocate. Our first projects back then included an installfest in collaboration with a local recycling facility, deployment of Ubuntu systems for a girls organization and the launching of an LTSP-based project for an adult learning center.

Over the years, I’ve continued with my passion for promoting Ubuntu and its various flavors (particularly Xubuntu) through local teams, presentations and community-developed promotional materials. You can too!

LoCo Teams

Ubuntu Local Community (LoCo) teams are regionally-based groups of Ubuntu advocates and supporters who get together in order to support users in their geographical region and promote Ubuntu in their local area with groups and at conferences.

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of participating in various events by LoCo teams. In 2009 I was invited to present at the Ubuntu Release Event in Waterloo, New York. While traveling in 2010 I got off my flight and attended the release party put on by the Ireland team for Maverick Meerkat in Dublin.

In my own teams (Pennsylvania, and now California) I’ve participated in a variety of events, including:

Training for a deployment for girls in Philadelphia (and brief impromptu chat about being a woman in tech) in 2007:

Staffing a booth at the Central Pennsylvania Open Source Convention (CPOSC) in 2009:

Staffing a booth at the outdoor community event, Solano Stroll, in Berkeley, California in 2011:

And a booth at the Southern California Linux Expo in 2013 (another one is coming up this week!):

I have really enjoyed working with LoCo teams and would like to impress upon anyone reading this: Anyone can help with a team. Teams from all over the world are listed over on and even if your team isn’t all that active right now, you can jump right in and help out. When I began contributing to my team in Pennsylvania I’d only been using Ubuntu for a couple years on a laptop (not even on my main system!) and hadn’t really spent a lot of time in the community, within a couple of months I was not only helping organize events, but also presenting at events.


This article is the final one in a 5 part series that I’m writing leading up to the Southern California Linux Expo where I’ll be presenting at the Ubucon. I’ve been presenting at Ubucon for the past several years on various topics from community involvement to running OpenStack on Ubuntu – and you can too!

Up on SpreadUbuntu I have uploaded my Introduction to Ubuntu talk that I frequently give at a local IT Tech class on Linux. I’ve shared it so others can take, adapt and present themselves:

I’m currently excited to see a colleague in the Ubuntu community is currently doing just that so he can add in a tour of Unity using this slide deck as a base.

Giving presentations at LUGs around release time or at conferences is a great way to get out there and directly talk to folks about Ubuntu. Topics are wide open, from introduction an to Ubuntu, your favorite tips about effectively using Unity or talking about the latest features that users can anticipate in the new release.

Also, giving presentations isn’t that scary. Just make sure you prepare in advance and practice, you’ll be ok :)

Promotional Material

I have pretty much no artistic talent, but back in 2010 I asked my friend Martin Owens to create a poster that I could use for an upcoming conference and he really came through with a “Reasons to Love Ubuntu” poster that I continue to use to this day, available here:

This year I worked with Pierre van Male of the StartUbuntu project who developed a flyer for their project. I pulled in the artistic talents of Pasi Lallinaho of the Xubuntu team and together we created a version of the flyer that we’re using to promote Ubuntu and Xubuntu, I’ve printed out a pile of them to bring along to a conference this week:

You can download the source here: (US Letter) (A4)

It’s also been translated into a few other languages, see this recent Xubuntu website post for more.

As you can see, I’m linking to throughout this post. It’s a great resource for sharing posters, flyers, presentations and more between teams and I use it a lot for my own materials. Unfortunately a lot of the content is out-dated and I think the site has largely lost interest by most of the community. I’d love to see others using this resource more!

Finally, there’s the Ubuntu Advocacy Kit, a project that I’d like to see really take off. Currently it’s pretty limited in content, but with a handful of dedicated contributors it could be turned into a really valuable resource for the whole community, so if you’re interested in materials and advocacy, have a look at that project.

Previous posts in this series

by pleia2 at February 18, 2014 05:28 PM

February 17, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

Books, de Young, upcoming travel and Valentine’s Day

Since I’ve had over a month between trips and MJ has been working a lot, I hunkered down these past few weeks and did my best to catch up with a lot of the little stuff that slips during times of intense travel schedules. It hasn’t all been easy though, I’ve been working with my doctor to address some fatigue issues, where we’ve been seeking to tease out what is proper exhaustion (doing too much, who me?) and what is not (I want to sleep for 12 hours a day, what the heck?). There is a fair amount of both. I also decided to start week 6 of Couch-to-5K over after 5 days of rain gave me a great excuse to give it a pause. Happy to report that week 6 has now been completed, yesterday I ran, albeit slowly, for 25 minutes in a row! I’m feeling it today ;)

I’ve been catching up on my reading some too. I’ve been making my way through The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, which has been really valuable and I’m enjoying. I’ve been challenging myself with The Revolution Starts at Home, which is a fascinating read but requires me to leave my comfort zone and listen to stories and reflections from people whose lives I don’t really understand and frequently struggle to identify with. For fun I picked up Abominable Science because I would totally be a cryptozoologist if I wasn’t such a skeptic. My magazine pile is also shrinking, I’m at least to the point where all of them are from 2014 and my brain is now full of cool science news.

During the great 5 day downpour of 2014 I didn’t stay home, as tempting as it was. On Sunday afternoon after the Sharing the Beauty architecture class (which I wrote about here), I met up with my friend Steve to finally check out the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. It’s one of the few major museums in the city I hadn’t yet been to, so in spite of the rain we made the trek across the city to visit. We skipped the special exhibition and did a tour of the whole permanent collection. I was particularly happy to see one of Edward Hicks‘ version of The Peaceable Kingdom. I’ve seen another at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and have a print of his Noah’s Ark (which I also saw in Philly) hanging in our condo. He’s one of my favorite artists, there’s something captivating about his paintings, particularly of animals.

While MJ was travelling for work this week, I also had the opportunity to have a few other meals with friends. I love working from home but I do find loneliness creeping in, particularly since events I do go to have more than a handful of people and trigger my shyness, making them exhausting. One on one meals with friends are much better, I should do more of them.

But in bigger meals, it was fun to have the San Francisco Ubuntu Hour and Bay Area Debian dinner this week. Most of the attendees were the usual suspects who I love spending time with, but at the Debian dinner we were also joined by Tollef Fog Heen who in town and able to make our discussion about the init system debate in Debian much more interesting as he is someone who was directly involved.

I mentioned earlier in the month that we’ve been working to treat Caligula’s strain of pseudomonas which has turned him into a sniffly furball. Unfortunately, while they appeared to work at first, the latest round of antibiotics were also ultimately not effective. We’ll need to follow up with the vet to see where to go from here, as Simcoe has also been sneezing. Poor critters.

In conference news, I’m spending a lot of time today prepping for SCaLE12x, which I’m flying out for on Thursday. In addition to the two talks I’m already scheduled for, I also agreed to do a third, 30 minute talk at 3:30PM on Friday on Open Source Systems Administration in the Infrastructure.Next track. I’m also happy to report that my Code Review for Systems Administrators talk at LOPSA-East was accepted! So I’ll be heading back east in early May (or late April, we’ve been discussing spending our wedding anniversary in Philly).

And so March doesn’t feel left out, my trip to Maine to visit my sister, nephew and mother is booked. I’ll be flying out on the 15th and spending a week at my sister’s place. I’ll be working while I’m there, but simply spending time with my family will be nice. Also hoping to swing by a few of my favorite places, including L.L. Bean down in Freeport.

Finally, this weekend was Valentine’s Day weekend and yesterday was the anniversary of my move to San Francisco. Unfortunately due to the bad weather on the east coast, MJ’s Thursday flight was cancelled and the first flight he had on Friday was delayed, causing him to miss his connection and ultimately not make it home until almost midnight on Valentine’s Day. He did send me roses though, which I am continuing to enjoy!

Anticipating the potential issue with making it home on time, I took to twitter and was subsequently contacted by a reporter who I had a chat with. She was working on a story about storm delays around holidays, and the result is here: Stormy Weather Again Hampering Holiday Flights. That Elizabeth Joseph is me, and we did indeed miss our fondue dinner on the first Valentine’s Day as a married couple! Fortunately we were able to get reservations at The Melting Pot last night instead and they still had their yummy Valentine’s day menu.

by pleia2 at February 17, 2014 07:04 PM

February 14, 2014

Nathan Haines

Getting organized: Accountability, time management, and Ubuntu

Time management forms designed by David Seah

Everyone loves making excuses. When a new year rolls around, one day is much like the next. But people actually use a new year as an excuse to take stock, stop making excuses, and resolve to do things differently. For many, 2014 is a new start and I think that another January is as good an excuse as any to make plans.

I spent the last weekend of 2013 doing major cleaning. I straightened up the half of my bedroom that serves as my home office, got my printer set up in its rightful space on top of the end table/bookshelf by my computer desk so I can use the scanner, bought new ink cartridges, moved around inspirational and educational books to the office bookshelf, and mounted my whiteboard again. I also bought a check holder rail to mount under my whiteboard. With a clean desk, easy office supply access, and a big whiteboard with a ton of dry-erase markers, I was ready to plan for the year.

One of the big problems with freelancing is time management. There are a lot of things to do, but there are also a lot of pictures of cats to look at on reddit. Between the two, it’s easy for important goals to slip between the cracks. In 2014, I decided to go back to a paper-based time management system that worked so well for my first private IT job years ago. It was invented by David Seah and is called the Printable CEO. This system is a collection of mix and match forms which allow you to track time in a variety of ways. You can use any form on its own or combine them to track various projects. It has its foundation in the Getting Things Done method of time management.

When I first started working in IT after graduating, my boss was quite busy with a lot of things, and asked me to keep track of my time and send him a weekly report of the things I worked on. I had never needed to do this before and was able to find the Printable CEO series through searching for time management forms. The Resource Time Tracker was the perfect tool to track my tasks throughout the week, and I actually used the short weekly form on its own week after week. Not only could I see where my time was going, but after a couple of weeks I could actually use it to plan out new projects. When I started writing business reports in Python, it was very useful to know how much actual work I needed to do and how much time I could spend automating. I’ve started a long-term project with a friend that seems just right for these forms and I’ve put it into practice for the first time this month.

For my own day-to-day planning, what I really need is accountability. Every working day since the last week of December, I’ve used the Emergent Task Planner. It’s a single-page sheet that has three work periods (separated with one-hour breaks) where you can list three (or more) major tasks for the day, estimate the time they will take, and then plan when you’ll work on them. There’s another large section for notes and other things. The nice thing about this form is that it was meant to work with the Pomodoro technique, where you work in set intervals. These forms use a 15-minute interval. This means that for every 15 minutes you work on a task, you get to fill in a bubble marking your time spent. This is a silly but addictive reward for getting things done and I’ve found that it works really well for me. I use this for single-day tasks that I know I can finish as well as planning to work on multi-day tasks.

For tasks that need to be tracked over multiple days, I use a form called the Task Order Up. This is like an order check used in restaurants around the world. I write down a task and break it into discrete steps. Then I work on each step and fill in a bubble every 15 minutes. I printed a page of each available color and keep green for direct freelance work, orange for Ubuntu work, and black for anything else. I actually ordered a check rail holder just for these slips. Having them in front of me beside my monitor is a great reminder of my progress.

For its own part, Ubuntu has been a big help in keeping me productive. I’m a big fan of Unity, and with the Launcher hidden, Unity really makes it easy to focus on my work at all times. When I need quick information, the Dash search in Ubuntu 13.10 lets me quickly find not just applications, but also the files and folders I’ve recently worked on for each application. I can do a search and find the folders and files I’ve been working on and open them quickly. Occasionally I’ll put on background music, and the Dash is up to snuff with music searches as well. Meanwhile the messaging indicator keeps me aware of incoming emails without diverting my attention. And the date indicator keeps track of any appointments I enter into my Google account via my phone. There are a few Pomodoro apps for Ubuntu, but I don’t use them personally. I prefer to keep track of start and stop times myself. Still, Ubuntu is one of the major reasons I’ve been productive this year! Well, if you don’t count the time I’ve spent playing Kerbal Space Program via Steam, anyway.

This year I set out to renovate the way I do business, and I found some wonderful, clean time management forms I can use on paper. Ubuntu continues to be the perfect fit for my desktop and laptop computers. Thanks to this combination of organization and accountability, I’ve been able to really get work done and adjust my schedule for my strengths and weaknesses. A month and a half into 2014, the year’s looking bright. I’m grateful to combine the best of legacy time organization and the best software in computing to create a powerful foundation to build on.

February 14, 2014 08:31 AM

February 13, 2014

Jono Bacon

Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 9 ‘The Starting Pitstop’ Is Out

Stuart Langridge, Jeremy Garcia, Bryan Lunduke, and myself wend our troublesome ways down the road of:

  • We weigh in on the upstart/systemd brouhaha in Debian and discuss what happened, why it happened, and whether it was a good thing or not.
  • Bryan reviews the Lenovo Miix 2 tablet and we get into the nitty gritty of what you can do with it.
  • We take a trip down memory lane about how we each got started with Linux, which distributions we used, and who helped us get on our journey.
  • We take a recap and look at community feedback about guns, 3D printing, predictions, Bad Voltage gaming, the Bad Voltage Selfie Competition and more, all making an appearance.

Go and listen or download it here

Be sure to go and share your feedback, ideas, and other comments on the community discussion thread for this show!

Also, be sure to join in the Bad Voltage Selfie Competition to win some free O’Reilly books!

Finally, many thanks to Microsoft for helping us get the Bad Voltage Community Forum up and running, and thanks to A2 Hosting for now hosting it. Thanks also to Bytemark for their long-standing support and helping us actually ship shows. :-)

by jono at February 13, 2014 09:44 PM

Elizabeth Krumbach

5 ways to get involved today: Ubuntu Testing

At the Ubucon at Southern California Linux Expo on Friday, February 21st I’ll be doing a presentation on 5 ways to get involved with Ubuntu today. This post is part of a series where I’ll be outlining these ways that regular users can get involved with while only having minimal user-level experience with Ubuntu.

Interested in having a polished release but not able to contribute in a very technical way? Testing pre-releases is a great way to get started, even Mark Shuttleworth is getting in on the testing fun!

In this post, I’ll walk you through doing an ISO test, but there are also package and hardware/laptop tests that can be done, full details here:

Testing an ISO

Log on the the testing tracker

You will want to go to The page can be a bit overwhelming at first, but there are two sections you’ll want to focus on, the log in button and the list of builds available for testing.

To log in you’ll need an account with, clicking on the “Log in” button will take you to a page where you can set up one or use your existing one.

Select a build to test

Most days the only build that is currently being tested is the “Daily” image – so in the screenshot above that is “Trusty Daily” and you’ll want to click on that link. The “Trusty Alpha2″ and “Trusty Alpha1″ images have already been released, so ISO testing on those is no longer necessary.

Select something to test

This screen can be a bit overwhelming too since it lists all the possible builds in the ISO tracker, which is a lot! I highly recommend using the Filters on the left hand side of the screen to select only the builds you’re interested in. In this screenshot I selected only Ubuntu and Xubuntu to make the list short.

Then you can look to see what you want to test. Do you have a new computer? You can test the 64-bit image isos, I circled where you want to click in the screenshot if you want to test the Xubuntu 64-bit ISO (I do!).

Select what test you want to do

At this next screen you will be presented with a series of tests that you can do. The easiest is “Live Session” since it doesn’t require you to install anything, it’s just testing a live session. You then also have various options for Installation-based testing.

But let’s say you have a virtual machine (Virtual Box is free and pretty easy to use for this) or a spare computer you want to do tests on, so for the purpose of this walkthrough we’ll select “Install (entire disk)” test case.

Download and prepare the ISO

Once you’re on the screen for the test case, there will be a link to downloading the ISO. There are many options for downloading, including just clicking it to download via http, downloading via rsync, zsync or torrent; you can read more about all of these options once you learn more about testing. For now, downloading it through http is fine.

While you’re waiting for it to download you can click on “Testcase” in the grey box below that to read through what you’ll be doing in the test case.

Once downloaded, either use the image directly in something like VirtualBox, or put it on a USB stick or burn a DVD.

Begin the test case

Scrolling down on the same page, you will see this:

This is where you will report the results of your test. The “Bugs to look for” are a list of bugs that others have reported that you may encounter, so you might want to look at some of those and include those bug numbers in your test if you encounter them too.

A quick rundown of the meaning of each field is as follows:

Result: Whether or not you were able to get through to the end of the test case with no fatal errors

Critical bugs: Bugs that prevented you from finishing the test case (would generally go along with “failed” above)

Bugs: Bugs that exist, but you were able to work around them and finish the test case (it can be marked as “passed” and still have bugs)

Note: Don’t stress too much over whether you believe a test is really passed or failed and whether bugs are critical or not, there is some judgement involved in here and results are reviewed by release managers who decide whether the ISO is ready for releasing. Just do your best!

Hardware profile: This is an optional field that can give the team an idea of what your hardware is. Using a virtual machine? Actual hardware? How much RAM and what type of graphics card? Put as much information as you can online somewhere and paste your link here. For example, here’s the testing profile I use for my Lenovo G575 and another for when I test in a 1.5G RAM virtual box instance. You can also choose to use the “hardinfo” command to generate information about your hardware and put it online somewhere.

Comment: You can add any additional comments you may have about doing the test case

If you run into any bugs while doing your test, you will need to submit those bugs for them to be recorded. For this you will need an account on, if you don’t have one, get one by clicking here. Once you submit a bug you’ll want to add that bug number to your list of Bugs (or Critical Bugs). Learn more about reporting bugs here.

Note: Reporting bugs can be hard, particularly determining what package to file them against, even I still struggle with this! My recommendation is to do your best, make sure you add your bug to the tracker so people notice it and ask for help on the ubuntu-quality mailing list if you’re really unsure.


Click “Submit Result” and you’ll be finished reporting a test case! The Ubuntu community thanks you :)

Learn more about testing

A more thorough walkthrough with more screenshots can be found here:

You can sign up for and email the ubuntu-quality mailing list to introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have, they’re a friendly bunch.

Visit the Quality Assurance Team wiki for more about other kinds of testing.

Previous posts in this series

by pleia2 at February 13, 2014 06:03 PM

Jono Bacon

Forward Momentum in the Ubuntu App Developer Platform

Last week I was in Orlando sprinting with my team as well as the platform, SDK, and security teams and some desktop and design folks. As usual after a sprint, I have been slammed catching up with email, but I wanted to provide a summary of some work going that you can expect to see soon in the Ubuntu app developer platform.


In the last few months we have been working to refine our HTML5 support in the Ubuntu SDK.

Today we have full HTML5 support in the SDK but we are working to make HTML5 apps more integrated than ever. This work will land in the next week and will include the following improvements:

  • Consolidating everything into a single template and container. This means that when you create a new app in the SDK you have a single template to get started with that runs in a single container.
  • Updating our Cordova support to access all the devices and sensors on the device (e.g. camera, accelerometer).
  • Adding full Ubuntu platform API access via Javascript. With this you will be able to access Online Accounts, the Content Hub, the App Lifecycle support etc and more.
  • Adding a series of refinements to the look and feel of the HTML5 Ubuntu components. Before the components looked a little different to the QML ones and we are closing the loop.
  • Full API documentation for the Cordova and Platform APIs as well as a number of tutorials for getting started with HTML5.
  • On a side note, there has been some tremendous speed improvements in Oxide which will benefit all HTML5 apps. Thanks to Chris Coulson for his efforts here.

With these refinements you will be able use the Ubuntu SDK to create a new HTML5 app from a single template, follow a tutorial to make a truly native look and feel HTML5 app utilizing the Cordova and Platform APIs, then click one button to generate a click package and fill in a simple form and get your app in the store.

I want to offer many thanks to David Barth’s team for being so responsive when I asked them to refine our HTML5 support ready for MWC. They have worked tirelessly, and thanks also to Daniel Holbach for coordinating the many moving pieces here.


Our SDK is the jewel in the crown of our app development story. Our goal is that the SDK gets you on your Ubuntu app development adventure and provides all the tools you need to be creative and productive.

Fortunately there are a number of improvements coming here too. This includes:

  • We will be including a full emulator. This makes it easy for those of you without a device to test that your app will work well within the context of Ubuntu for smartphones or tablets. This is just a click away in the SDK.
  • We are also making a series of user interface refinements to simplify how the SDK works overall. This will include uncluttering some parts of the UI as well as tidying up some of the Ubuntu-specific pieces.
  • Device support has been enhanced. This makes it easier than ever to run your app on your Ubuntu phone or tablet with just a click.
  • We have looked at some of the common issues people have experienced when publishing their apps to the store and included automatic checks in the SDK to notify the developer before they submit them to the store. This will speed up the submissions process.
  • Support for “fat” packages is being added. This means you can ship cross-compiled pieces with your app (e.g. a C++ plugin).
  • Last but certainly not least, we are going to be adding preliminary support for Go and QML to the Ubuntu SDK in the next month. We want our app developers to be able to harness Go and with the excellent Go/QML work Gustavo has done, we will be landing this soon.

As ever, you can download the latest Ubuntu SDK by following the instructions on Thanks to Zoltan and his team for his efforts

An awesome SDK and a fantastic platform is only as good as the people who know how to use it. With this in mind we are continuing to expand and improve to be a world-class developer portal.

With this we have many pieces coming:

  • A refinement of the navigational structure of the site to make it easier to get around for new users.
  • Our refined HTML5 support will also get full Cordova and Platform API documentation on the site. Michael Hall did a tremendous job integrating Ubuntu and upstream API docs in the same site with a single search engine.
  • A library of primers that explain how key parts of our platform work (e.g. Online Accounts, Content Hub, App Lifecycle, App Insulation etc). This will help developers understand how to utilize those parts of the platform.
  • Refining our overview pages to explain how the platform works, what is in the SDK etc.
  • A refreshed set of cookbook questions, all sourced from our standard support resource, Ask Ubuntu.
  • We will also be announcing Ubuntu Pioneers soon. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so more on this later. :-)

Thanks to David, Michael, and Kyle on my team for all of their wonderful efforts here.

Desktop Integration

In the Ubuntu 14.04 cycle we are also making some enhancements to how Ubuntu SDK apps can run on the desktop.

As many of you will know we are planning on shipping a preview session of Unity8 running on Mir. This means that you can open Unity8 from the normal Ubuntu login screen so you can play with it and test it. This will not look like the desktop; that work is on-going to converge Unity 8 into the desktop form-factor and will come later. It will however provide a base in which developers can try the new codebase and hack on it to converge it to the desktop more quickly. We are refreshing our Unity8 developer docs to make this on-ramp easier.

We are also going to make some changes to make running Ubuntu SDK apps on Unity 7 more comfortable. This will include things such as displaying scrollbars, right-click menus etc. More on this will be confirmed as we get closer to release.

All in all, lots of exciting work going on. We are at the beginning of a new revolution in Ubuntu where beautifully designed, integrated, and powerful apps can drive a new generation of Ubuntu, all build on the principles of Open Source, collaboration, and community.

by jono at February 13, 2014 06:14 AM

February 11, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

5 ways to get involved today: Ubuntu User Support

At the Ubucon at Southern California Linux Expo on Friday, February 21st I’ll be doing a presentation on 5 ways to get involved with Ubuntu today. This post is part of a series where I’ll be outlining these ways that regular users can get involved with while only having minimal user-level experience with Ubuntu.

One of the most valuable things about using Ubuntu is the vast wealth of help available from fellow community members. Most of the time when I have a problem, I can search for an answer and find one, or ask on one of the several support outlets that exist.


Helping out others was one of the first ways I got involved, and there are many benefits to having this be yours too.

Gentle learning curve

You may need to learn forum or mailing list etiquette, but otherwise you just jump in and help folks with things you know how to help out with. There are no requirements to have special training and you don’t need to know everything. If you’ve been using Ubuntu a few days longer than someone else, you can probably help them out.

No set time commitment

You can help as much or as little as you want. There is very little investment in getting set up with help resources made available by the community and you can spend all day answering questions or just answer one question per week. It’s all up to you.

There are many outlets for helping

Love forums? Prefer Stack Exchange? Or mailing lists? Want to help via IRC? You have many options! The following are the core help areas for the Ubuntu community:

If you’re more interested in passive support, documentation contributions and improvements are always welcome and needed on the Community Help Wiki.

You’re making a difference

It may seem like an easy way to contribute, but you’re lending your talents to one of the things that makes our community great. Regardless of how much you contribute, every person you help is someone who is no longer stumped with their issue and that makes a difference.

by pleia2 at February 11, 2014 05:39 PM

Sharing the Beauty: Architecture Class

Back in December I attend a couple classes at Congregation Sherith Israel here in San Francisco aimed at teaching congregants and potential docents about the physical and historical aspects of the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Previous posts:

Classes resumed on Sunday morning with local architect Arnie Lerner who gave us a tour of the interior of the synagogue from the perspective of architecture.

The outside of the building itself is masonry, made of brick covered with sand stone and a steel structure. In interior has a significant amount of painted plaster covering the walls, including up inside the dome. As we learned in a previous class the style of architecture is Beaux-Arts.

Most interesting to me was some of the changes over time and what had been restored. The massive rose window that can be seen from outside, and several of the stained glass windows, have been restored. I had never been up to see the rose window from the inside before, so this was a nice opportunity to take some pictures.

We also learned that the series of front doors had actually been replaced with steel doors sometime in the mid 20th century, with the wooden doors being kept in the partial basement. During a restoration several years ago the doors were brought out of storage and restored, which I’m sure was a vast improvement!

The building also recently had illuminated exit signs and emergency evacuation lighting installed a couple years ago in order to improve safety in the building.

In spite of the suriving the 1906 earthquake (and being one of the few major buildings in the city that did), the building is also undergoing a major seismic right now, were they’ve been working to further strengthen the building. Arnie brought along a core that had been drilled during the process of “core drilling” that is being used. He even brought along a piece of the core so we could get an idea of how big of a space they had to drill to insert the reinforcing rods.

“Core drilling: a type of vertical reinforcement of masonry walls that relies on drilling a continuous vertical core that is filled with steel reinforcing rods and grouting to resist in-plane shear and out-of-plane bending.” via The Seismic Retrofit of Historic Buildings

From there we then did a long walk around the building, going through the main sanctuary and up the stairs to where the organ is, where we were able to hear a bit more about the building interior.

I also had a nice opportunity to take some close up pictures of the stunning Moses at Yosemite window:

Amusingly, some have said that Moses looks like John Muir, which they say could actually be possible given his influence at the turn of the century when the windows were being produced.

Unfortunately due to the heavy rain we weren’t able to do a tour of the outside, so instead we took time to go up inside the dome, where I had been before but this was my first time during the day.

I have uploaded photos I took during the class here:

We have the rest of the month off, but I’m looking forward to the 2 classes coming up in March:

  • 3/2 Stained Glass – Ian Berke
  • 3/23 Organ – Jonathan Dimmock

by pleia2 at February 11, 2014 04:16 AM

Eric Hammond

EC2 create-image Does Not Fully "Stop" The Instance

The EC2 create-image API/command/console action is a convenient trigger to create an AMI from a running (or stopped) EBS boot instance. It takes a snapshot of the instance’s EBS volume(s) and registers the snapshot as an AMI. New instances can be run of this AMI with their starting state almost identical to the original running instance.

For years, I’ve been propagating the belief that a create-image call against a running instance is equivalent to these steps:

  1. stop
  2. register-image
  3. start

However, through experimentation I’ve found that though create-image is similar to the above, it doesn’t have all of the effects that a stop/start has on an instance.

Specifically, when you trigger create-image,

  • the Elastic IP address is not disassociated, even if the instance is not in a VPC,

  • the Internal IP address is preserved, and

  • the ephemeral storage (often on /mnt) is not lost.

I have not tested it, but I suspect that a new billing hour is not started with create-image (as it would be with a stop/start).

So, I am now going to start saying that create-image is equivalent to:

  1. shutdown of the OS without stopping the instance - there is no way to do this in EC2 as a standalone operation
  2. register-image
  3. boot of the OS inside the still running instance - also no way to do this yourself.


create-image is a reboot of the instance, with a register-image API call at the point when the OS is shutdown

As far as I’ve been able to tell, the instance stays in the running state the entire time.

I’ve talked before about the difference between a reboot and a stop/start on EC2.

Note: If you want to create an image (AMI) from your running instance, but can’t afford to have it reboot and be out of service for a few minutes, you can specify the no-reboot option.

There is a small risk of the new AMI having a corrupt file system in the rare event that the snapshot was created while the file system on the boot volume was being modified in an unstable state, but I haven’t heard of anybody actually getting bit by this.

If it is important, test the new AMI before depending on it for future use.

Original article:

by Eric Hammond at February 11, 2014 04:08 AM

February 10, 2014

Jono Bacon

The Next Ubuntu Developer Summit: 11-13 March 2014

The Ubuntu Developer Summit is the primary place where we discuss, debate, and plan the future of Ubuntu. The entire event takes place online, is open and accessible to all, and every session is recorded so everyone can see how decisions are made. It is a useful, fun, and rewarding event to join.

My apologies for the delay in announcing the next event. The last few months have been somewhat hectic and we wanted to wait for some confirmed conference/sprint dates across Ubuntu Engineering and cross-check those with our release schedule before committing to final dates so we can ensure as many people are there as possible.

I can now confirm that our next Ubuntu Developer Summit will take place from Tues 11th March 2014 – Thurs 13th March 2014. I wanted to let you all know ASAP so you can get it in your calendars. is updated and ready to start having sessions added or proposed.

This next UDS will look and feel much like the last one; the same tracks and format. The feedback we have received from the last UDS suggests that the changes we made were well received. As ever, your feedback is always welcome.

If you want to have a session at UDS, please see this guide for how to propose it. As usual, feel free to ask for help from myself or Michael Hall, David Planella, or Daniel Holbach,

by jono at February 10, 2014 11:55 PM

February 08, 2014

Akkana Peck

Early expirations: A surprise-a-minute with a ACA/CoveredCA health plan

I went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription a few days ago. The pharmacist said "We don't seem to have any insurance on file for you." I said "That's funny, I just gave you my new insurance card about a week ago, at that window right over there." That would be my shiny new hard-won Blue Shield card with my Obamacare/ACA/CoveredCA plan number.

The pharmacist went into the back room and came back a minute later with a printout. "Looks like that insurance expired on 1/18. Was that a temporary plan number or something?"

"Well, if so, they sure never told us about it, and we've paid through the end of February."

He went to the back room again and got someone to call Blue Shield. And in 10 minutes (whew, I was worried they'd hit the same hour-long queue we individuals have to wait through ... I tried calling them with a billing question last week and had to give up when my phone battery ran out long before I got through the queue) they came back and gave me the prescription for $5.

Does that mean that the problem is solved and the early expiration date was just a mistake? Or did they do some one-time override, and I'll have to argue every time I go in using this card?

As it happens, I'll never know, since I'm about to leave the state. So I get to go through the ACA application process all over again (oh, joy!), this time in a new state using the federal website, about which I've heard so many wonderful things. It'll be interesting to see how stacks up now compared to the CoveredCA site back in November.

February 08, 2014 03:04 AM

February 07, 2014

Jono Bacon

An Exciting Future

We are growing a world-class community and app developer eco-system, fuelled by Open Source and open collaboration. We are putting the core pieces in place and I am delighted to be working with such a wonderful team:

(L-R) Daniel Holbach, Kyle Nitzsche, Michael Hall, This Guy, Nicholas Skaggs, Alan Pope, David Planella

by jono at February 07, 2014 06:53 PM

Elizabeth Krumbach

5 ways to get involved today: Ubuntu Documentation

At the Ubucon at Southern California Linux Expo on Friday, February 21st I’ll be doing a presentation on 5 ways to get involved with Ubuntu today. This post is part of a series where I’ll be outlining these ways that regular users can get involved with while only having minimal user-level experience with Ubuntu.

Welcome back! In this second post I will take the opportunity to introduce you to the Ubuntu Documentation team.

Ubuntu Documentation

Like the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter that I mentioned in my last post, this effort is completely volunteer-run and pulls in community members from throughout the Ubuntu desktop and server community and the flavors. The team is small, but over the past year it’s been growing and could really use some new contributors.

One of the easiest ways to get involved is by reviewing the development version of the Desktop documentation and submitting bugs when you find issues. Review can be in the form of grammatical review or technical review, and we can always use folks who are keeping up with new features so we’re sure to document them.

You have a couple of options when it comes to doing review.

1. Review the 13.10 documentation on the web

This is the easiest way to quickly get involved. Your task here is reviewing this documentation and seeing if there are any errors or updates to be made for the upcoming 14.04 release.

Tip: We have already updated some of this in the latest development version for 14.04, but there still may be errors to find so reviewing this is useful to us.

2. Build the current development documentation as html

This is a bit more involved because you have to install some things on your system, but it’s the best way to help us because you get the latest version of the documentation that’s currently in development!

The steps for building are as follows:

  • Install the following packages: bzr xsltproc libxml2-utils yelp-tools yelp-xsl
  • At the command line, type: bzr branch lp:ubuntu/ubuntu-docs (this took several minutes for me, be prepared to wait!)
  • Change to the new ubuntu-docs html directory: cd ubuntu-docs/html/
  • To build the HTML documentation, just type: make
  • View the resulting HTML documentation in the html/build/en/ directory. I did this in my home directory, so I just opened file:////home/elizabeth/ubuntu-docs/html/build/en/index.html in my browser (replace “/home/elizabeth/” with whatever directory you ran the bzr command in)

Tip: When reviewing documentation built on your system keep an eye on the address bar to make sure the pages you are reviewing are still your local file:/// ones, there are some links in the documentation that take you to other sites.

Reviewing instructions

To prevent everyone from reviewing the same few pages over and over again, we’ve created a spreadsheet to track which pages still need to be reviewed. Visit the spreadsheet and find a page that hasn’t been reviewed yet and add your name to the Reviewer column. If all the pages have been reviewed once, feel free to pick a page and review it a second time!

The Ubuntu Documentation adheres to the style guide here: DocumentationTeam/StyleGuide. Of particular interest may be the Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling section. Also note that the Ubuntu documentation uses US English spelling and grammar rules.

If you find a bug, please report it here:

Tip: All screenshots are done at the end of the cycle once the UI has frozen, this is done automatically by a team member so it’s typically not required to submit bugs related to screenshots.

If you have any questions or run into any problems, please feel free to email the Ubuntu Doc mailing list at or chat with us in the #ubuntu-doc IRC channel on

And when you’re ready to go beyond review? Full instructions for contributing (including submitting changes in Mallard rather than submitting bug reports!) here: DocumentationTeam/SystemDocumentation/UbuntuDesktopGuide

by pleia2 at February 07, 2014 03:37 AM

February 05, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

5 ways to get involved today: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter

At the Ubucon at Southern California Linux Expo on Friday, February 21st I’ll be doing a presentation on 5 ways to get involved with Ubuntu today. This post is part of a series where I’ll be outlining these ways that regular users can get involved with while only having minimal user-level experience with Ubuntu.

In my first post of this series, let’s take a look at the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter!

Every week, the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter is read by thousands of community members, it’s cross-posted to several resources so for the release of issue 353 on Monday you could find it via:

Contributing to the newsletter is a great way to contribute to something that community finds valuable.

I’m happy to say that today we have some really exceptional work coming from Paul White who participates from beginning to end: link collection, summary writing and editing. We recently gained Emily Gonyer who has been putting in tons of effort each week on summary writing and keeping an eye out for accuracy of articles. And finally, we still regularly have Jim Connett popping in for editorial review at the end of the release cycle.

But we don’t want to burn out these contributors! It’s a lot of work to put together the newsletter every weekend, and we need folks for the following:

Summary writers. Summary writers receive an email every Friday night/Saturday morning with a link to the collaborative news links document for the past week which lists everything that needs summarizing. These people are vitally important to the newsletter. The time commitment is limited and it is easy to get started with from the first weekend you volunteer. No need to be shy about your writing skills, all summaries are reviewed before publishing so it’s easy to improve as you go on. We also provide Style Guidelines to help you out (and you can always look at past issues!).

Editors. Our editors receive an email every Sunday night/Monday (depending on our timing and your time zone) with a link to the wiki page ready to be reviewed. Editors check for grammar, spelling, formatting and other consistency issues. Good written English skills, attention to detail and willingness to adhere to our style guidelines required.

Interested in either of these? Email and we’ll get you added to the list of folks who are emailed each week and you can help as you have time. Please specify whether you are interested in summary writing or editing when you contact us. And if you find you can’t participate or want to be removed, you can always be removed from the list of people contacted each week, just ask :)

by pleia2 at February 05, 2014 02:52 AM

OpenStack Infrastructure February 2014 Bug Day

The OpenStack Infrastructure team hosted our last bug day back in December. Since then, elastic-recheck has become a pretty big deal and the community has had to become more diligent about rechecking against actual bugs in the infrastructure, meaning our bug tracker has been much more active! In general, the team has been doing a better job of keeping track of new bugs coming in, so our stats for today didn’t show the kind of dramatic drop that some might hope for.

But these days are still valuable to us! Even I found a couple bugs where I could offer updates, we were able to take time to triage a bunch of New bugs that hadn’t been touched, and shuffle around priority of many others. It’s a great time for us to get a higher level view of everything on our plates so we can make plans accordingly.


First, I created our etherpad: cibugreview-february2014 (see etherpad from past bug days on the wiki at: InfraTeam#Bugs)

Then I run my simple script and populate the etherpad.

Then I grab the bug stats from launchpad and copy them into the pad so we (hopefully) have inspiring statistics at the end of the day. Once bugday makes it into infra proper I hope to update that to include us too, there is a bug for that, and now a review!

Then comes the real work. I open up the old etherpad and go through all the bugs, copying over comments from the old etherpad and making my own comments as necessary about obvious updates I see (and updating my own bugs).

Last step: Let the team go to town on the etherpad and bugs!

Here are the stats from today:

Bug day start total open bugs: 266

  • 45 New bugs
  • 45 In-progress bugs
  • 5 Critical bugs
  • 17 High importance bugs
  • 4 Incomplete bugs

Bug day end total open bugs: 245

  • 0 New bugs
  • 46 In-progress bugs
  • 5 Critical bugs
  • 22 High importance bugs
  • 17 Incomplete bugs

Nice work, thanks again everyone!

by pleia2 at February 05, 2014 12:19 AM

February 04, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

And it’s February on the home side

Work and projects have certainly kept me busy, but I’ve also had time for home, self and family things.

Caligula wasn’t the only one who had some dental work done, both MJ and I had to go in at the end of January. I was reminded the hard way that Novocaine upsets my stomach, but aside from the queasy afternoon everything went well.

In the midst of being so busy lately, I realized I should probably work to get out to socialize more outside of work/conference/event things. I do have friends in the city now, so I really need to do a better job of reaching out to them when I’m feeling lonely.

Last week I finished off the 5th week of Couch-to-5K with a brutal 20 minute run, thankfully for week 6 it was back to a mix of running and walking. It was cool to learn that I could run for a full 20 minutes though, even if it was painful and difficult!

Last week my Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe were in town for a conference and I was able to meet up with them for a couple meals. Early in the week we met up for drinks and then for a great dinner at Zero Zero. On Saturday we met them in the late afternoon for a quick visit to Pier 39 (sea lions! view of Alcatraz!) before we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge for an exceptional dinner at Murray Circle Restaurant at Cavallo Point. Afterwards we spent a bit of time there at Fort Baker soaking in the view of the city and the bridge.

The weekend wrapped up with some work at home. We finally received the last lamp we ordered from the bedroom, and also were able to take time to hang the mirror we bought with the first lamp.

It’s so nice to finally have a mirror over the dresser! And with this completed our bedroom is pretty much done. I think completing the living room will be our next project.

We also have our computer project to complete, getting our media server and storage server online. I was reminded of this even further when I got on my desktop this morning and was confronted with a wall of filesystem errors. I’ve put in an order for a couple new drives, which is not what I had planned on doing this week, but will finally give me the opportunity to set up RAID1 for my desktop so I don’t need to be quite so worried about drive failures (I keep backups, but, you know).

by pleia2 at February 04, 2014 05:19 PM

Jono Bacon

The Community Leadership Summit and Think Tank

As some of you will know, I founded the Community Leadership Summit that takes place in Portland, Oregon every year. The event brings together community leaders, organizers and managers and the projects and organizations that are interested in growing and empowering a strong community. Each year we discuss, debate and continue to refine the art of building an effective and capable community, structured in a set of presentation and attendee-driven unconference sessions.

This year’s event is happening on 18th – 19th July 2014 (the two days before OSCON), and is shaping up to be a great event. We have over 140 people registered already, with a diverse and wide-ranging set of attendees. The event is free to attend, you just need to register first. We hope to see you there!

The Think Tank Community Leadership Summit

This year I am also excited to announce an additional sister-event to the main Community Leadership Summit at the Open Source Think Tank.

The Community Leadership Summit and Open Source Think Tank have partnered to create a unique event designed for executives and managers involved in community management planning and strategic development. While the normal annual Community Leadership Summit serves practicing community managers and leaders well, this unique event is designed to be very focused on executives in a strategic leadership position to understand the value and process of building a community.

I have been wanting to coordinate a strategic leadership event such as this for some time, and the Think Tank is the perfect venue; it brings together executives across a wide range of Open Source organizations, and I will be delivering the Community Leadership Summit track as a key part of the event on the first day.

The event will be in the form of a day of presentations and sessions that cover many of the considerations when building a community management strategy, and these approaches will be exercised in a practical and interactive case study. The conclusions from the event will then feed into the rest of the Think Tank. I am excited to get started and I am confident the event will be tremendously valuable for attendees, particularly in an age when a community management strategy is more and more of a core requirement.

The event takes place on 24th March 2014 in Napa, California. See the event homepage for more details – I hope to see you there!

by jono at February 04, 2014 02:46 PM

Elizabeth Krumbach

A couple articles, PyCon and a keynote in Croatia

It’s hard to believe that January is already over. It was quite the full month with my trip to Perth and then a lot of work and project stuff happening. Looking at my calendar for the year I seem to have a pretty full schedule, during which I’m also dying to squeeze in a visit to my youngest sister and my nephew in Maine (aiming for March).

Last month I was happy to see my Code Review for System Administrators article come out in the January issue of USENIX ;login: logout. It’s an online-only publication but it was great to be able to transform the talk I’ve given on the subject to text, and working with Rikki Endsley is always a pleasure. I was also interviewed several months back my comments made their way into Issue 180 of Linux Format in Jono Bacon’s Equality and open source article.

Apologies for the pay wall for both of these articles, if you’re a USENIX member you can grab the ;login: logout article, and the Linux Format one should be available for general consumption in the next few months.


In conference news, I’m officially one of the TAs for the Build your own PiDoorbell! Learn Home Automation with Python workshop at PyCon 2014 in Montreal in April. I’ve never attended a PyCon and I’m super excited about meeting up with Akk, Rupa and the other TAs to start learning what we’ll be teaching others. I’m thinking I’ll set up my motion sensor next to Simcoe’s food bowl so I can make sure Caligula doesn’t eat her food. I’ll also be pitching in at the HP booth during the conference days.

PyCon 2014

I also learned on Sunday that not only is HP going to be a sponsor of DORS CLUC 2014, a Linux User Group Convention in Zagreb, Croatia in June but will be giving a keynote! I’ll be there to talk about the fully open source Continuous Integration system that we use for the OpenStack project. Bonus, this will be my opportunity to finally meet Jasna Benčić, a rising tech star who I met through work on several Ubuntu projects a couple years back, including her tireless work on the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter and Ubuntu Learning.


I’ve put in a few more talk submissions to other conferences, so it’s shaping up to be a really exciting year.

by pleia2 at February 04, 2014 05:26 AM

Ubuntu California planning for the Southern California Linux Expo

The Ubuntu California team does a lot of small events throughout the year, from release parties and jams to regular Ubuntu Hours all over the state. But our big event of the year is always the Southern California Linux Expo.

We kick off the expo with an Ubucon on SCaLE’s Friday of miniconfs.


I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to speak at this event for the past few years, and this year is no exception! The Ubucon lineup for Friday the 21st is as follows:

My 5 ways to get involved with Ubuntu today talk will cover ways that regular users can get involved with while only having minimal user-level experience with Ubuntu. In preparation, this week I’ll also be launching a series of posts where I’ll be outlining these ways as a bit of a sneak peek as to what to expect during the talk.

On Saturday and Sunday the team will be running an Ubuntu booth in the expo area. Over the years we’ve gotten quite skilled at knowing what we should bring and have used the wiki to list out everything we need to have folks sign up to volunteer and bring things:

This year I’m fortunate to have Robert Wall making the trek down to SCaLE by car, so he can bring along all the booth items I signed up for (no stuffing them in my suitcase!) as well as having him on booth duty. Also thanks to Philip Ballew, Stephen Briles, Mickey Lyle, Matt Mootz and José Antonio Rey who have already signed up for booth duty throughout the weekend. We also have System76 to thank for providing us a couple demo laptops for the booth and the rumor is Canonical has loaned us a couple of phones running Ubuntu to show off too.

SCaLE11x booth
Our booth at SCaLE11x in 2013

I’ll be dropping by the booth as time allows, but I learned a couple conferences ago that I don’t have the energy to run a booth all weekend and speak at a conference. My second talk of the weekend will be at the main SCaLE conference on Code Review for Systems Administrators on Saturday at 6pm, where I’ll be talking about the system we use for the Infrastructure team of the OpenStack project (my day job!).

by pleia2 at February 04, 2014 04:32 AM

February 03, 2014

Akkana Peck

Windshield Washer Fluid Freeze-out

I'm nearing the home stretch of a move from California to New Mexico. (I'll be writing about that eventually, but right now I'm in the middle of Moving Hell.) Since we're about to drive our cars out to a place that's getting freezing temperatures, Dave got the bright idea that we ought to replace our windshield washer fluid with a type that doesn't freeze at 32°F.

Easy, right? We drove down to Pep Boys -- and couldn't find any. All they had was marked as 32°. So we asked the gentleman at the counter.

Pep Boy: Sorry, we only carry the 32-degree kind. We're not legally allowed to sell the other kind.

Us: Uh, what?

Pep Boy: We're not legally allowed to sell the antifreeze type because it hardly ever gets down to freezing here.

Us: But what do people do when they're driving up to Tahoe or something?

Pep Boy: They start with the tank empty, stop partway up and buy some, and fill up there.

Us: ...

We drove down the street to O'Reilly's, to double check. O'Reilly's sells a concentrate with additives (methanol) for subfreezing temperatures. Just add water. Wait, what?

I did a web search when we got back home. Sure enough, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has made it illegal to sell pre-mixed windshield washer fluid with methanol, because the methanol evaporates contributes to "ground level ozone and air pollution", according to The Hanford Sentinel: Looking for winter windshield washer fluid? Good luck!

It's illegal to sell pre-mixed. But it's legal to sell concentrate -- even though the concentrate contains far more methanol than pre-mixed would have.

Words fail me.

February 03, 2014 02:30 AM

February 02, 2014

Elizabeth Krumbach

Simcoe’s January vet visit and Caligula’s cold

Simcoe’s last vet visiting to do an analysis of her blood levels was back in November. Since we noticed her levels were creeping up at the time, but she also had some sniffles, perhaps that impacted results? We came up a plan with the vet to recheck her in 2 months (rather than 3) and went ahead and scheduled her appointment to coincide with some dental work Caligula was having done.

We dropped Caligula off at the vet the morning of January 25th and commenced worrying about him all day. Unfortunately those sniffles I mentioned Simcoe having back in November were ones that had continued with Caligula over these past couple months with varying severity. We put him on antibiotics in mid January, but they decided to do a sinus x-ray prior to the dental work to figure out what was going on and whether they could go on with the dental work. He was still congested so they decided to give him an antibiotic shot this time and go ahead with the dental work. He came out from the dental work a bit drugged but ok. They followed this up with a culture to see if he had a bacterial infection.

Results from the culture came back Wednesday, he has a strain of Pseudomonas. It’s resistant to both antibiotics he’s already been on so we picked up a third type yesterday and started the treatment last night. Simcoe is sniffling again too, so we my need to put her on it too.

When we went to pick up Caligula following his dental work, we had scheduled a vet visit for Simcoe. Since he had the cat carrier, we put her on a harness and lead to go to the vet, which she really was not at all happy with, she prefers being able to hide in her carrier.

The exam went well, she’s continuing to maintain a health weight, which is always a good sign for a cat with renal failure. Last visit she was 9.5lbs, this time she’s 9.6lbs.

Unfortunately both her BUN and CRE levels have gone up a little, 53 to 57 on BUN and 3.5 to 3.6 on CRE.

BUN: 57 (normal range: 14-36)
CRE: 3.6 (normal range: .6-2.4)

This is something to continue to keep an eye on if the trends continue in this direction.

For now we’re back on the 3 month check in schedule and will handle her sniffles as needed, hopefully this round of antibiotics will do the trick for Caligula.

by pleia2 at February 02, 2014 08:17 PM

January 31, 2014

Jono Bacon

New Bad Voltage Episode and Competition

Bad Voltage Season 1 Episode 8 ‘We Don’t Need Roads’ is available now.

In this show Jeremy Garcia, Stuart Langridge, Bryan Lunduke, and myself present an hour of talk about leafblowers, dust-resistant paper, fruitflies, and:

  • Back to the Future II, the 1989 film, predicted a raft of technology for 2015. With only a year to go, is anything they suggested even close to achieveable?
  • We speak to Matthew Garrett, notable Linux kernel hacker and commenter on security, UEFI, and hardware about the NSA in your firmware, why computers are more compelling than fruitflies, and his work at Nebula on providing trust to the cloud
  • Guns. As a followup to our previous discussion about 3d-printing of guns, we talk about the issue of whether guns are a good idea, the arguments for and against gun control, and how this differs internationally
  • The second half of our predictions for 2014: Bryan and Stuart give theirs

Go and listen or download the show now and share your feedback on the forum.

Today we also launched our first competition, the Bad Voltage Selfie Competition where you can win a free bundle of O’Reilly books if you are the winner or runner up. To find out more head over here and join in the fun!

by jono at January 31, 2014 06:11 AM

January 30, 2014

Jono Bacon

Happy Birthday, Aq

Today (well technically the 30th) Stuart ‘Aq’ Langridge enters yet another decrepit year on his prolonged marathon of bothering us all. Not long now and he will be fully fossilized. I am not sure what an angry ginger fossil looks like, but I am pretty sure it is hilarious.

I first met Aq in 1999 at the Linux User Group I formed in Wolverhampton. Since then we have been the best of friends. We have weathered changing companies, moving countries, setting up businesses, various relationships, trying to sell houses, and spent approximately a third of our lives trying to outfox each other in debates (of which many of you may have overheard on Bad Voltage, LugRadio, and Shot Of Jaq).

At every step of the way in my life Aq has been there. He has been a friend in the truest sense of the word; he has motivated me, inspired me, told me when I am being an idiot, and kept me focused on the most important things in life. When I moved to California I was really genuinely worried we would drift apart as friends, but I am delighted that we are as close as we have ever been.

As such, I for one am thankful that approximately 125 years ago he was born on this day.

Tonight I expect to read tweets as he celebrates, complaining about terrible music and the overly frothy head on his pint, while hypothesizing on yet another computer to buy that isn’t a Thinkpad. Oh, and liking ridiculous yellow sports cars. And thinking Fear Of The Dark is Iron Maiden’s best album. Irrespective, it is a worthy celebration.

Thanks, comrade, for everything. :-)

by jono at January 30, 2014 04:16 AM