Monthly Archives: September 2012

New server, old website

In our Core-Meeting last night we mainly had 3 topics.

The first one was about the releases we plan until the end of 2012. I had made suggestions on a rough timeline for this and it was approved, with the chance of small changes as we go. Here is what is planned:

  • ~ 2012-10-15  noX Developement Release
  • ~ 2012-11-01  normal Release (KDE,XFCE,LXDE,Razor-qt)
  • ~ 2012-11-20  Gnome Developement Release
  • ~ 2012-12-26   X-Mas Special (needs to be defined still)

As Wheezy will not be releasaed in 2012 [RC bug count: 529 as of today], we do not expect any problems from that direction. With noX and Gnome there will be two new members in our flavour-family. My guess is that they will complete our flavour-list for now.

The 2nd topic was discussed quite controversial, as to be expected. We have, since we started siduction, been working on a new website, based on Joomla, with a new forum included. The main reason for that was, to have something fresh and to get away from Zikula, the software powering siduction.org now. Unfortunately it turned out that noone really had the time to stem this job. We had in that respect clearly bitten off more than we could chew

To bring that endevour to a good end, I suggested we pay someone ~ €300 to finish the project and technicaly support it for a year. After a heated discussion a vote on this denied that suggestion. The alternative that was being held against it is, to start afresh with SMF instead of Joomla. So lets see how that goes.

The 3rd topic was about getting our hands on a 2nd server. We have a powerful buildserver that is used for building testing and release images and our kernels. The rest of our stuff (forum, chili dev-plattform, git) was on productive private servers that were not easily exessible to the team. We need to put these tasks on a server that we control. So we decided to vote,  if we should spend ~ €500 p.a. for such a machine. Before the vote was finished, a Core-Team member sponsored  such a root-server for us. Well, many thanks for that, it is highly appreciated!

Because it was getting late we moved the remaining topics on the list to the next meeting on Oct. 7.

ownCloud as an alternative to Dropbox and friends

Dropbox, GDrive and all the rest of the cloud-hosters have a nice business model and it seems to work for them. On the other hand, Dropbox has had more than it’s fair share of security issues and they did not seem to be on top of things at all times.  Besides that, by using those services, you load private and sensitive data to servers (mostly) in the US. That leaves some of us with an uneasy feeling.

So, as usual, there is an alternative for linux: ownCloud has been started in 2010 by KDE developer Frank Karlitschek and is at stable version 4.0.7 right now, which is to be found in the Debian unstable repository. ownCloud is written in PHP and JavaScript and makes use of  a {sqlite,mysql,postgresql}-database. There is a webcilent, which makes it usable on all pattforms, including  Android and iPhone. There is also integration into the desktop (at least for KDE with Dolphin) with the owncloud-client. The developement of ownCloud was at times a bit hasty for my taste, the release of ownCloud 4 being a bit premature for sure So, with 4.04 in wheezy and 4.07 in sid, i thought, i’d give the latter a fair beating on the weekend. There is also 4.5.x as git version for the very brave. As I wanted to check if i could use ownCloud productively for myself at this point, I settled for the 4.0.7.

The V-Server I am using for this adventure runs wheezy. So I needed to expand the sources to sid and installed owncloud and owncloud-sqlite from there. Opening the web-interface and doing some configuring was a matter of minutes. The only thing that needed to be manualy done was some changes to /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini. Php has an upload limit of 2 MByte as default. So that needs to be changed and is documented well, like the rest of the ownCloud features. Just don’t forget to restart apache afterwards.

On my workstation at home i had to add 2 sources as well to be able to install owncloud-client. One was a line for squeeze in a sid environment, which is normaly not a sane idea. But as it is only needed for libssl0.9.8, which works fine with libc6 from sid and has no other dependencies to take care of, this is fine for this case. Other than that: kids, don’t do this at home ;). The other line added to my sources was one from Suse, because Debian does not ship owncloud-client yet. The needed line is:

deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/isv:ownCloud:community/Debian_6.0/ /

After installing libssl0.9.8 explicitely from stable, you can then install csync and owncloud-client. With owncloud-client you can set up syncing within your file-manager (only tested with dolphin so far).

After everything (upload, download,syncing, sharing) worked like a charme, I started to integrate my local and google calendars and my adressbooks from kontact using akonadi and Webdav. Five minutes later I was setting up ampache on my Droid, so ownCloud can stream music to the smartphone. Amarok can also be talked into streaming music from your cloud.  All this worked in a matter of minutes without much hassle.There is other features I have not tested yet, like LDAP integration.

As you probably sensed by now, I had a lot of fun and really like ownCloud a lot and will use it productively instead of Dropbox. Of course there is room for improvement in such a young project. The developers integrated too much too fast and now the bugtracker is flowing over. Issues I ran into are a slow webclient that freezes at times (only tested with Chromium so far) and owncloud-client showing false errors and so blocking sync. These things are easy to workaround, but nonetheless annoying and will hopefuly be fixed for 0.5.

My conclusion is: taking your cloud needs into your own hands is well spent time. ownCloud will go a long way and is here to stay. If this got you interested, please have a look at the features and the documentation.

Preparing for 2012.2

As you might have guessed already if you frequently visit our forums, a new release is in the making. What we already have is a name. 🙂 Even though sid is kind of tame because of the freeze, we call it ‘Riders on the Storm’ , borrowed from the Doors’ last Album ‘LA Woman’. Thanks for taking part in the vote on our forum. 2012 will see 2 more releases and 2 more desktop environments. Well, not entirely true, as one is not a desktop environment, but a release lacking exactly that. It’ll be called No-X , and that pretty well describes it. The other one will be [hear hear] Gnome, probably in Version  3.6.x. We all know, Gnome is having a hell of a good time trying to make itself obsolete these days, with the latest and greatest being Mr. Miguel de Icaza waking all the bestest  flame monsters.

But nontheless, there is users wanting to have a siduction Gnome flavour, and they will get it.. Convbsd  has joined teams to make this possible. We are still looking for a second maintainer for Gnome to help convbsd in maintaining this flavour in the long run.

On sunday nights’ Core Team Meeting we could not quite agree yet on when to release what. All we know for certain is that both new flavours will have a developement release before entering our release cycle permanently. As a rough date for the release of 2012.2 we picked the days around the beginning of November. The holiday season between the years will see a surprise release of some kind. The 2 new flavours will see a developement release each until the end of the year. The next Core Team Meeting in 2 weeks will be more elaborate on the actual dates.

I personaly am quite exited to see Razor-Qt 0.5 to be released in the next weeks. Qupzilla 1.3.5 is also just around the corner with new features. If all is dandy, Razor-Qt will enter the siduction family of desktop environments with one of the 2 upcoming releases in 2012.

What else is new? A user asked for 3 pet-tools of his to be packaged and put in the repo. This was a good chance to make it clear that we cannot package every wish a user might have. That is the reason why we have a (until now unused) user repository. We might give a hand if a user has a problem packaging something, but we will not do it for him. we just don’t have the time. If there is greater demand for a package in the user repository to be lifted to official repos, we might look at the package and make it ready for prime time.

So please fill the user repository with life and talk about it on the forum, so we can make this fly. We are open for questions and hints.