Author Archives: Ferdinand Thommes

Fix Release for siduction 2013.2 December

Due to a very tenacious bug in our installer, that took some time to fix and after some stabilization for systemd, we decided to put out a set of fresh images. Besides the fixes we ship KDE 4.12.1 with this set of images called siduction 2013.2.1.

The bug in the installer affected mostly users that had an install of our predecessor aptosid installed at some point and had one of their greek codenames still in /etc/aptosid-version or used non-asci characters in the installer. So that was fun.

We also tried to ship kernel 3.13, but due to a still unsolved regression it would not boot past busybox in KVM or VBox. So we went back to 3.12-8 for siduction 2013.2.1.

For 2014.1 we will keep on working on the instsaller UI, which is too cluttered overall.

Release notes for siduction 2013.2 with systemd

We are very happy to present to you the final release of siduction 2013.2 – December. siduction is a distribution based on Debian’s unstable branch and we try to release a few new snapshots over the course of each year.

Since the release of the RC we have ironed out some nasty bugs with language-packs, unicode handling in the installer and stabilization within systemd. We believe, that there is no release critical bugs left, so here we go.

siduction 2013.2 – December is shipped with 5 desktop environments: KDE SC, XFCE, LXDE, Razor-Qt and GNOME, all in 32- and 64-bit variants. From the included DEs this time around only LXDE fits on a CD with 700 MegaByte. But as CDs become more irrelevant with every day, we are not too worried about this and recommend to use USB-Sticks for installation.

The released images are a snapshot of Debian unstable, that also goes by the name of Sid, from 2013-12-30. They are enhanced with some useful packages and scripts, our own installer and a custom patched version of the linux-kernel 3.12, accompanied by X-Server 1.14.5-1.

Besides those desktop environments we also include noX, which had it’s premiere with the last release and is an environment without X. There is, last, but not least, an image that listens to the name of Xorg and it features the minimal window manager Fluxbox on top of X.

New in this release cycle is the use of Systemd. While Debian is still discussing, what init system to use in the future, siduction has decided to go with Systemd. It is the most technicaly advanced of the init systems at hand, besides that, even if Debian should decide to go with Ubuntu’s Upstart, for various reasons we will not follow them there. Until we have a section on systemd in our manual, we will help you out with some of the most used commands in systemd

What is new

As mentioned above we have taken a step into the possible future of Debian and implemented systemd into siduction as our new init system. Here is a cheat sheet with some of the commands that are new for booting, handling services and logging:

Handling Services

  • systemctl list-units – List all units (where unit is the term for a job/service)
  • systemctl start [NAME...] – Start (activate) one or more units
  • systemctl stop [NAME...] – Stop (deactivate) one or more units
  • systemctl disable [NAME...] – Disable one or more unit files

Check man systemctl for more information. For your comfort we also ship systemd-ui, which is called with the command systemadm.

Changing Runlevels, Reboot and Shutdown

Changing runlevels is also different from sysvinit. What was known as runlevel 3 is now multi-user.target, init 5 changes to graphical.target:

  • systemctl isolate graphical.target – Will take you to what you know as init 5
  • systemctl isolate multi-user.target – Will take you to what you know as init 3
  • systemctl reboot – Shut down and reboot the system
  • systemctl poweroff – Shut down and reboot the system

Logging with Systemd Journal

    Journal is a great win over the aged syslog. Logging starts earlier, which for sure was one of the backsides of syslog. Also there is commands that give you tailored information at your fingertips.

  • journalctl –all – gives you the full journal of the system and all users
  • journalctl -f – gives you a live view of the journal as it grows (used to be tail -f /var/log/messages)
  • journalctl -b – shows the log of the last boot
  • journalctl -b -p err – shows the log of last boot, limited to the priority ERROR
  • journalctl –since=yesterday – since Linux people normaly do not reboot much, this is limiting it more than -b

That is only the tip of the iceberg, more is to be found on Lennart Poetterings blog

Since we still ship a compatibility package called systemd-sysv, you can also continue to use the commands you are used to for now, other than the ones for the journal. Besides that we set up systemd in a way, where you can use all the above commands for the journal as plain user, no root needed.

Gnome

As Gnome is still pretty new in our release cycle, here is a few hints on how to run it:

There are two ways to start your gnome-session:

* gnome-fallback, which implements the GNOME2 look
* GNOME, which implements the GNOME3 look and desktop-effects

To be able to start gnome as a gnome3-session, your videocard must be accelerated. Users of ATI graphic cards must have firmware-linux-nonfree installed to be able to launch GNOME3. By default in live mode gnome-fallback is started. After installation, GNOME3 mode is enabled. That means, users of ATI cards must install firmware-linux-nonfree before starting the installer.

Boot cheatcode “gnome”

If you want to force a GNOME3-session even in live mode, you can use the cheatcode gnome to the kernel-bootline. This does not work for users with ATI cards other than with a persistent overlay on a USB device.

And besides that?

We ship, for the second time, noX as an official release, which was introduced first in October 2012 as development release. As there is no graphical environment, you need to use cli-installer as root to run the installation.

XFCE is being shipped in version 4.10.1 and is as reliable as ever. Contrary to Gnome, XFCE stays away from shipping systemd code for now.

For our KDE SC users we packaged the latest available version KDE SC 4.11.4. The rewrite of siduction-settings-kde is basicaly done, a few adjustments to colours and other small changes were made before the final release.

Razor-Qt is still on a slightly modified version 0.5.2, which has better plugins and overall functionality. This will be improved even more with the upcoming version 0.6, which already is in our razorqt/next repository for the brave at heart. We will release this sometime and then switch over to lxde-qt, which will be the product of Razor-qt and LXDE joining forces with Qt as base. Other than that all Qt versions of apps have been updated.

This is probably the last release of LXDE as we know it in siduction. As mentioned above. LXDE goes together with Razor-Qt to form a new DE based on Qt.This release of LXDE is ahead of Debian due to us working with LXDE upstream. That means that pcmanfm, lxappearance and lxappearance-obconf are freshly packaged upstream versions. Also our version of Midori is slightly ahead of Debian.

A lot of time consuming changes again went into adapting the codebase we forked to our needs. This time the former bluewater-manual base was completely changed. We went from static pages to Django and adjusted the appearance to the siduction look and make it match our new website that we just launched a couple weeks ago. Work on the sidu-manual, as it is called now, is ongoing to make it a lot easier to add new content than before.

All in all we closed more than 170 bugs since the last final release.

The installer offers btrfs still as an experimental filesystem. Please be careful if you use it and always backup your data.

Our Resources

siduction Forum
siduction Blog
Git Archive
Distro News
Bug-Tracker
siduction-Map

Support can be obtained on our forum as well as on IRC. The relevant channels on OFTC-Network are #siduction for english support or #siduction-core, if you like to join in and participate. On your desktop you also find an icon that takes you to the right channel for support, depending on the chosen language.

To be able to act as a testbed for Debian, we are introducing our own bug-tracker. Let me explain how you can help us and Debian by submitting bugreports for broken packages. Weathered users will know how to file bugs directly with the Debian BTS (Bug Tracking System). For users not so comfortable with the system we have reportbug-ng preinstalled.

If you think, you found a bug in a Debian package, please start reportbug-ng and put the name of the package in the adressline on top. The app will now search through the already filed bugs for that package and show those. Now it’s up to you to determine, if “your” bug has already been reported. If it is, ask yourself if you have anything relevant to add to this report or maybe even a patch. If not, you are done for this time. If the bug has not been reported yet and you are not familiar with the BTS yet, you may report the bug in our Bug-Tracker.

That obviously goes for siduction packages as well. We will sort the bugs for you and file them in the appropriate place, if it’s reproducible. Please look out for a forum post with more detailed info on the bug-tracker soon. If all this seems to complicated for now, feel free to use the bugs-thread on the forum for now, it will keep working until final release.

Should you have wondered, where the codename ‘December’ comes from, let me tell you that we name our releases after famous rocksongs. Collective Soul had a hit with December in 2005 and it perfectly fits our release date.

Speaking of release and our planned release cycle. There is nothing we can tell you other than that we strive for 2-4 releases per year.

As we are always looking for contributors, here is what to do: Come to IRC to channel #siduction-core and talk to us about what you would like to do within the project, or where you think you could help. As you will notice if you scroll down, we have no art-team at the moment. If you are willing and capable, talk to us.

Hardware Tips

If you should own a ATI Radeon graphics accelerator, please use the failsafe option, when booting the Live-ISO. This option will add the cheatcodes radeon.modeset=0 xmodule=vesa to the Kernel bootline, so that you can boot to X. Before installing, on the Live-ISO, please install firmware-linux-nonfree. To do so, please open your /etc/apt/sources.list.d/debian.list with your favourite editor as root and append contrib non-free to the end of the first line. Save the edit and do:

apt-get update && apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree

If you install the operating system now, the package will be installed also, preventing you from a garbled screen when first rebooting. Mind that if you rebootbefore installing the system, the changes you made will be lost.

If your system has wireless network, this will probably not work out of the box with free drivers, so you better start with wired network connected. You might want to use the script fw-detect to get information on wireless drivers. The installer will prompt you for any missing firmware and guide you through the process of installing it.

Last but not least a hint for users of the kernel based virtual machine KVM. The developement of a frontend for the kernelbased virtual machine (kvm) has begun as a fork of qemu with the name qemu-kvm or short “kvm”. Since qemu version 1.4 all patches of the kvm fork have been integrated back into the qemu source. Also there has been much progress in the field of virtualization. So there is a lot of outdated documentation around. We have a current worksheet for Qemu in our wiki.

Credits for siduction 2013.2

Core Team:

Alf Gaida (agaida)
Angelescu Ovidiu (convbsd)
Axel Beu (ab)
Ferdinand Thommes (devil)
Hendrik Lehmbruch (hendrikl)
Markus Meyer (coruja)
Tom Wroblewski (GoingEasy 9)
Torsten Wohlfarth (towo)

Maintainers of the siduction Desktop Environments:

GNOME: Angelescu Ovidiu (convbsd)
KDE: Ferdinand Thommes (devil), José Manuel Santamaría Lema (santa)
LXDE: Markus Meyer (coruja)
noX: Alf Gaida (agaida)
Razor-qt: Alf Gaida (agaida)
XFCE: Torsten Wolfahrt (towo)

Art Team:

missing in action :)
Seriously, we need contributors for siduction release art!

Code, ideas and support:

ayla
bluelupo
der_bud
J. Hamatoma (hama)
Markus Schimpf (arno911)
Joogi
musca

Thank you!

Also thank you very much to all testers and all the people giving us support in any possible way. This is also your achievement.

We also want to thank Debian, as we are using their base.

And now enjoy!

On behalf of the siduction team:
Ferdinand Thommes

New website launched

After just two weeks of tinkering, we moved our website over… Well no, not really, let me start over :)

Together with the first release of siduction we also wanted to move our website away from Zikula, the CMS that we had used before. We find it unnecessarily complicated in administration without at the same time offering an adequate plethora of options and nifty tools, specially when it comes to things like spam protection. First off we had an intensive look at Joomla, did not really warm to it though. At least, in the process, I learned a lot about setting up Joomla with multiple languages, which a year ago was anything but straight forward. Continue reading

Ladies and gents, roll up your pants – the shit’s getting deep

In the wake of the scandal about PRISM, the NSA and their buddies from Great Britain and elsewhere, we have witnessed some services on the internet folding. In the past two weeks two services offering encrypted mail closed shop. Lavabit being the first, giving up after 10 years to protect their customers. Lavabit came into focus of the government because Edward Snowden used it for his emails. Obviously Ladar Levison, who founded the service, was forced to “voluntarily” give up his service. The second one is Silent Circle, a company co-founded by crypto-gurus Phil Zimmerman and Jon Callas. They also shut down their pgp-encrypted email service, while they are working on a mail client based on P2P that will leave no data to retrieve. CEO Michel Janke lets us know in a very interesting video-interview, what he sees happening. Continue reading

Summer in the City

Let me tell you, it is hot and it’s been that way for a month now. Just now a storm is brewing up and it will rain. My private life was quite stormy too during the course of this year. Spent spring in the US, then got back, got married, had a honeymoon on a float on a river and now filed papers for migrating to the USA. So the rest of the year will be busy as well. Continue reading

siduction 2013.1 has landed

firestarter.0.9.3

This morning, just before LinuxTag conference opened it’s gates, we shipped our first release in 2013. The conference has picked up momentum by now as has the seeding of our torrents. Besides that, the images should have propagated to our mirrors by now.

The release notes will inform you that we ship Kernel 3.9.3,  KDE SC 4.10.3 and XFCE 4.10. Besides that for the first time we officialy present GNOME 3 and a noX as a variant with no X-environment at all. Give it a spin while it’s hot and spicy.

Greetings from LinuxTag Berlin 2013, Europes biggest Linux event.